Alaska News

Woman missing after 2-year-old found in car abandoned on Stampede Trail

Mary Dawn Wilson

A search was underway Friday for a 69-year-old woman who apparently walked away from a car almost 7 miles up the Stampede Trail near Healy with a 2-year-old girl locked inside but unhurt.

Troopers received a report of the abandoned 2016 Ford Focus with the child inside around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, they said. They estimated the car had sat abandoned since Tuesday because there were no footprints leading from it and a heavy rain came through the area about two days before.

Mary Dawn Wilson started walking in a direction that led away from the Parks Highway after the vehicle became stuck, troopers in an update Friday afternoon. Personal items believed to belong to Wilson were found about a mile up the trail.

The child was taken to Healy before being placed in the care of the state Office of Children’s Services in what appeared to be good health, troopers said. She was later released to her mother once she was located.

Wilson had agreed to watch the girl for several days, according to a missing persons bulletin issued Friday. Relatives told troopers they consider the woman the child’s grandmother, a spokesman said. She was watching the child while the mother worked in rural Alaska at a mine.

Wilson was last seen Tuesday morning at a friend’s home near Healy, the bulletin states.

The area where the car got stuck is remote, with the nearest home about 3 miles away, troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain said.

The search for Wilson on Friday included village public safety officers, members of Solstice Search Dogs, Mat-Su Search and Rescue, Alaska Wilderness Search and Rescue, a troopers helicopter and troopers.

Any volunteers who wanted to participate in the search were asked to check in at the Stampede Road staging area in Healy and prepare for bad weather and insects, troopers said Friday.

The Stampede Trail, near Denali National Park and Preserve, was also home to the infamous “Into the Wild” bus airlifted out in 2020 after attracting travelers for years, leading to several rescues and deaths.

Troopers are asking anyone with information about the location of Mary Wilson to call 907-451-5100, or submit a tip anonymously through the AKTips smartphone app or online at

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at