Helicopter crew rescues stranded Susitna River boaters

Tegan Hanlon

Four family members, three from out of state, were rescued early Wednesday after they became lost on a fishing trip near Willow and attempted to camp in cold, rainy weather, according to Alaska State Troopers.  

Troopers said they received a report at 7:21 p.m.Tuesday of a stranded fishing party on the Susitna River near Deshka Landing west of Willow. 

Francis Hester, 76, of Willow, had taken three family members visiting from Texas on a short fishing trip. The group lost their way and Hester grounded his boat while attempting to navigate back to the landing, troopers said. 

"The group's location was obtained and the decision was made for the group to remain and camp through the night to wait for an Alaska Wildlife Troopers boat in the morning," troopers said.

But steady rain fell throughout the night and thwarted the family's attempts to keep up a fire, troopers said. Hester started to become hypothermic.

The Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was called, and the crew of an HH-60 helicopter was dispatched to find the group. The four family members were flown to the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, where Hester was treated.