Skip to main Content

After 6 days, still no trace of couple who went missing at Big Lake

  • Author: Madeline McGee
  • Updated: December 20, 2018
  • Published December 20, 2018

LaVerne Pettigen, pictured, and her husband, Van Pettigen, were reported missing out of Big Lake. (Courtesy LaTisha Wilkinson)

After searching more than 100 miles along the trail and lake systems near Big Lake, volunteer search parties said Thursday that there is still no sign of the Anchorage couple who went missing while riding snowmachines in the area last weekend.

Dan Mayfield, president of Big Lake Trails, which maintains the trail systems in the area, said more than 100 volunteers scoured the lake system Wednesday and found no trace of LaVerne or Van Pettigen, who were last seen Friday “on what was supposed to be a quick trail ride.” By Thursday, the number of volunteers had dwindled to “16 or 20,” he said. Multiple state agencies and the nonprofit rescue organization MAT SAR are also involved with the search.

The Pettigens were staying at a condo in Big Lake when they went missing. The couple’s daughter, LaTisha Pettigen, said she hasn’t heard from her parents since Sunday at 10:53 a.m. LaTisha Pettigen, who lives in Mississippi, said she flew to Alaska on Thursday “to help search and see if I can follow where I know my mom rides.”

Mayfield said the volunteers are paying special attention to waterways where the ice isn’t completely frozen over. A water rescue team was on standby Thursday, he said.

LaVerne and Van Pettigen (Courtesy Pettigen family)

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.