Alaska News

Missing teen found dead in Northwest Alaska after weeklong search

An 18-year-old snowmachiner was found dead Wednesday more than 10 miles from Kotzebue, troopers said, after volunteers and state and local authorities looked for him for over a week.

The body of Thomas Aki Pungalik Brown from Noorvik was located near Cape Blossom at about 1:30 p.m., according to the troopers’ report.

Brown and his cousin, Josiah Ballot from Selawik, left Kotzebue on a snowmachine the night of Jan. 15, Ballot’s mother, Tanya Ballot, said Monday. The search for the two teens started on Jan. 16 when the two did not arrive in Noorvik on Monday, she said.

Alaska State Troopers, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, private pilots, as well volunteers from such villages as Selawik, Kiana, Noorvik, Kotzebue and Buckland, were involved in the air and ground search, troopers’ spokesperson John Dougherty said.

Ballot was found on Jan. 20 with severe frostbite about 28 miles south of Kotzebue by private plane, about 8 miles from his snowmachine, Dougherty said last week. Ballot was flown to Kotzebue on Friday and later to the Anchorage area for treatment, troopers said.

“He is doing OK. In and out of sleep,” Tanya Ballot said earlier this week. “Long way to recovery.”

Troopers recovered Ballot’s snowmachine from the sea ice Saturday and continued the search for Brown, according to Dougherty.


Air and ground search efforts continued through Jan. 25, with community members providing food for staff and volunteers, according to the statement from Northwest Arctic Borough. Multiple searchers from North Slope Borough came to assist in the search on Wednesday, borough officials said.

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.