Alaska News

Search ongoing for Utqiagvik man missing after raft overturns near Cantwell

A search was ongoing Thursday for a 70-year-old man who was reported missing after his raft overturned Wednesday on the Chulitna River near Cantwell, Alaska State Troopers said.

A group of five people had been on the river in two rafts when one of the boats overturned while trying to avoid a logjam around 1 p.m., said troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain.

John George of Utqiagvik was swept under the logjam when the raft he had been on with one other person overturned, DeSpain said.

The other rafters activated an emergency alert on a Garmin device, and troopers and wildlife troopers responded to the area from Mile 182 of the Parks Highway, the agency said.

A helicopter from Fairbanks rescued two of the rafters and the other two were escorted from the area on foot by troopers, DeSpain said. They were not injured, he said. Everyone in their group was wearing life jackets, according to troopers.

Authorities were assembling a dive team Thursday to search the logjam, which DeSpain said is in a dangerous area with a fast-moving current. The team was expected to be at the scene Friday, he said.

George, known as Craig George, is a retired senior wildlife biologist who worked for more than 30 years at the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. He is a widely known expert on bowhead whales.

Daily News reporter Alena Naiden contributed to this story.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at