Authorities say the human remains found south of Point Hope on July 4 were those of a woman who disappeared on a snowmachine journey from Kotzebue to Selawik in May.
The North Slope Borough Police Department said Friday that the woman was positively identified by the state Medical Examiner's Office as Shellain Adams, 23, of Noorvik. Her companion on the snowmachine trip, Clifford Griest, 32, of Selawik, is still missing.
Authorities thought at the time that the pair may have fallen through sea ice outside of Kotzebue, and the discovery of Adams' body, near the Arctic coast 150 miles northwest of their starting point, gives credence to that theory. Selawik is about 70 miles in the opposite direction, southeast, and one way to get there in winter is over sea ice.
Capt. Darryl Holman of the North Slope Borough Police Department said the case is still under investigation. His department is waiting to get details on Adams' disappearance from Troopers. Kotzebue and Selawik are outside the jurisdiction of his department in the Northwest Arctic Borough.
Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said Friday that the lost snowmachiners were the subjects of a massive search at the time involving search and rescue teams from Kotzebue and neighboring villages, the Air Force, and Troopers. Residents from at least six villages conducted ground searches. The official search lasted at least till May 18, and volunteers continued to look long afterward, Peters said.
"They really wanted to find these people," she said. "They put in a huge, huge effort."
Adams' remains were found 13 miles south of Point Hope on the western edge of the Lisburne Peninsula in Northwest Alaska. Point Hope is about 185 miles northwest of Adams' home village of Noorvik and juts into the Chukchi Sea.
Reach Richard Mauer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4345.
By RICHARD MAUER
Alaska Dispatch Publishing