Rural Alaska

Snowmachiner survives fall through ice but dies trying to walk to Bethel, troopers say

A Napakiak man was found dead Tuesday near Bethel when he tried to walk to town after his snowmachine fell through lake ice, Alaska State Troopers said.

Charles Lupie, 31, had been traveling from Napakiak to Bethel, a straight-line distance of about 10 miles, when his snowmachine broke through ice on a lake, said Austin McDaniel, a spokesman for the troopers. He got out of the water and began walking toward Bethel, troopers said.

Lupie had walked about 7 1/2 miles on a trail before he died from exposure, McDaniel said.

Volunteers with Napakiak Search and Rescue found Lupie’s body around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday. Troopers said they responded to the area on snowmachine and transported his body to Bethel.

Ice on rivers and lakes near Bethel has not fully frozen for the season because of fluctuating temperatures, said National Weather Service hydrologist Marian Baker. Temperatures on Tuesday reached 16 degrees. Baker said it has generally been warm during the last week, with temperatures rising above freezing and then dropping again.

The ice is still thin and it’s not yet safe for people to travel on, she said.

Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing during the next few days, which McDaniel noted could amplify the already dangerous conditions.

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 twilliams@adn.com.

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