Anchorage man dies when snowcat falls through ice in Mat-Su, troopers say

An Anchorage man died Friday when the snowcat he was driving broke through lake ice in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Alaska State Troopers said.

Scott Gagne, 57, was driving the snowcat around 4:30 p.m. on Hewitt Lake near Skwentna when the large tracked vehicle fell through the ice, troopers wrote in an online report. Austin McDaniel, a spokesman for the troopers, described the snowcat as a “a larger tracked vehicle with a front plow that was transporting a snowmachine.”

Snowcats are often used to groom ski trails, but McDaniel said it was not clear if Gagne was grooming a trail when the machine broke through the ice.

“Based on our initial investigation, Mr. Gagne appeared to be crossing the lake at the time of the incident,” McDaniel said by email.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center deployed a team to the lake around 7:40 p.m. but the team saw “no apparent signs of survivors in the lake or surrounding area,” troopers wrote.

Poor weather Saturday delayed recovery efforts by troopers and the Alaska Dive Search and Rescue Team, the statement said.

The team recovered Gagne’s body Monday with transport help from an Alaska Army National Guard helicopter crew, troopers said.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at