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Rural Alaska

Searchers look for signs of missing snowmachiner in Western Alaska

Timothy Beebe, 48, left the Western Alaska village of Eek for a 30-mile trip to Quinhagak around 7 p.m. Saturday but never arrived, National Guard officials said. (Photo courtesy Alaska National Guard)

Rescuers are searching for a man who went missing while snowmachining from one Western Alaska village to another Saturday, the Alaska National Guard said in a statement.

Timothy Beebe, 48, left the village of Eek for Quinhagak on a blue Polaris snowmachine shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday but never arrived at his destination, National Guard officials said. The two villages are about 30 miles apart.

Soldiers with the Alaska Army National Guard’s 207th Aviation Battalion have flown the area but found no signs of Beebe, who was reportedly wearing blue camouflage rain gear the last time he was seen.

Volunteer search and rescue parties have also combed the routes between the two villages, Capt. Andrew Adams, commander of the Army Aviation Operating Facility in Bethel, said in the statement.

Adams, who also flew a Black Hawk helicopter during the search for Beebe, said rescuers have searched from the air for about 12 total hours over the course of three days.

The thawing conditions across the tundra where the man went missing have complicated the search, Adams said.

“Most trails aren’t even snow covered, so it doesn’t really leave a trail to follow,” said Adams. “It’s really hard to decipher whether tracks are fresh or not, and we don’t have the advantage of a clearly defined trail, which occurs when the ground is covered in snow,” he wrote in the statement.

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