A sweatshirt that Valerie Sifsof was wearing when she was last seen in July was found Sunday by her family at the edge of Six Mile Creek, near the campground where she had been with her boyfriend, Alaska State Troopers reported Monday.
The dark DKNY hoody was found at a big log jam about a half-mile downstream from Granite Creek Campground, around Mile 64 of the Seward Highway. The family did not collect it but called troopers, who documented the area and retrieved the sweatshirt, troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said in an e-mail.
Also, on Monday afternoon, a brother and sister of Sifsof were injured after hitting a car while on an ATV being used in the search, troopers said.
Sifsof, 43, of Anchorage, went missing around midnight July 7 after getting upset with her boyfriend and reportedly walking away from the campground, troopers have said. He didn't report her missing until July 11.
At the end of August, a kayaker found a green shirt in the same area of Six Mile Creek and it later was determined to belong to her, troopers said Monday. She also was believed to be wearing it when she disappeared, troopers said. Troopers have a photo of her from that camping trip wearing the sweatshirt, with the green shirt seen underneath.
In the weeks since the shirt was found, the area has been inundated with heavy rains.
"We hope to get back out there and search, but the rains have kept the creek dangerously high," Ipsen said.
The family coordinated a fresh search over the weekend near the campground.
"Timing of the search is critical: with most of the leaves down from the trees, visibility has greatly improved; and with snowfall possible in the Granite Creek area at any time, the window of the search is short," Victims for Justice, the advocacy group, said in a notice seeking volunteers.
A big group of 25 people or so came to help, said Victor Sifsof Sr., Valerie's father, who lives in Dillingham but has been staying mainly in Anchorage because of her disappearance. The family had checked that creek and the nearby woods maybe 12 or 13 times already, he said.
"Quite frankly we didn't feel she was in that area because we had searched so much but we felt we had to continue to search to make absolutely sure."
One of four searchers on pontoon boats spotted the sweatshirt at the edge of the water, Victor Sifsof said.
In the crash side note Monday, Victor Sifsof Jr., 30, of Anchorage, was driving a Suzuki KingQuad and Victrina Sifsof, 48, of Anchorage, was his passenger, troopers said. They were going about 20 mph as they headed south on the bike path, the first of three ATVs riding along, troopers said.
Andrew Dupree, 18, of Anchorage, was driving a 1993 Chevrolet Corsica and was turning right into a driveway at Mile 62.2 of the highway.
Just before 1:30 p.m., the Chevy was T-boned by the ATV, troopers said. Dupree and his passenger were not injured, and the car was driven from the scene, troopers said.
The Sifsofs were not wearing helmets but are expected to recover, troopers said. They were taken by ambulance to Alaska Native Medical Center for treatment of their injuries.
"They're doing OK. Bruised up, maybe a broken bone or two," their father said just after visiting them in the hospital.
A week ago, a trooper flew over the area in Helo 1, the trooper helicopter, looking for evidence related to Sifsof's disappearance. The trooper counted four log jams in the area where the clothing was found.
This search phase is not over, Victor Sifsof Sr. said. The family plans to return Tuesday. Troopers may send a helicopter on Wednesday, he said. Troopers also plan to search with cadaver dogs once the water recedes.
"We want to complete this if at all possible," he said.
Reach Lisa Demer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4390.
By LISA DEMER
Alaska Dispatch Publishing