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Searches ongoing for 2 hunters missing from separate camps in Alaska

  • Author: Chris Klint
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published September 14, 2015

The search for a Fairbanks man missing over the weekend in deteriorating weather nearly 100 miles north of the city is continuing, with volunteers asking for more help to find him.

Dalton Hanson, 23, was first reported missing to Alaska State Troopers at about 10:40 p.m. Thursday after he walked away from a hunting camp near Mile 8 of the Dalton Highway, according to a weekend dispatch on the search for him.

"Hanson was reported not to have survival gear or clothing for the weather," troopers wrote. "(He) was last known wearing a camouflage jacket, black pants, and boots."

Alaska Wildlife Troopers and village public safety officers searched for Hanson, backed up by a trooper helicopter from Anchorage. Volunteers from Wilderness Search and Rescue along with PAWS search dogs were also heavily involved in ground efforts, and the Fairbanks Red Cross was providing canteen support to keep search teams in the field.

As of Monday, troopers also hadn't found any sign of Hanson.

"Weather has not been cooperating," Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. "Our helo wasn't able to fly yesterday until later due to weather conditions."

Talitha Cullen, a close friend of Hanson, said conditions in the search area were so poor that helicopters couldn't reach planned deployment sites for search dog teams Sunday.

"The weather is dropping fairly fast -- it's snowing, it's raining," Cullen said. "There was no visibility to drop the dogs."

Despite the weekend support from troopers, Cullen said the worsening conditions were cutting off that avenue of assistance.

"Troopers would not come out to the scene yesterday because the highway was so bad," Cullen said. "There were rollovers."

With ground crews stymied by the weather and aircraft encountering difficulties, locals were relaying a request to troopers for military aid in finding Hanson, Cullen said.

"They're not going to be able to stay out there much longer because of the weather, and they need to find him now," Cullen said.

Troopers were assessing the search efforts Monday, but there wasn't word on what mix of air and ground searchers would be deployed.

"They're looking at reorganizing the search efforts today to be more effective," Peters said.

Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton, with the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing, said no Guard aircraft had yet been committed to the search Monday, pending a request from troopers.

"If they can't get their helo into service or it can't complete the mission, then they will call us," Eagerton said. "At this point, the RCC hasn't officially been requested."

Anyone who sees Hanson -- a white man weighing 160 pounds and standing 5 feet, 7 inches tall, with short brown hair and brown eyes -- or has information on his whereabouts should call Fairbanks troopers at 907-451-5100 or Cullen at 907-347-3835.

Peters also said Monday that troopers began a second search over the weekend for a Florida man reported missing under circumstances similar to Hanson's. Charles Hulls, 48, was last seen leaving a hunting camp Saturday morning in the Petersville area, north of Talkeetna near Little Peters Mountain.

Troopers said in a dispatch that a ground search had been mounted Sunday for Hulls, but Alaska Air National Guard aircraft dispatched by the 11th Air Force's Rescue Coordination Center were unable to reach the vicinity of the camp.

"Apparently the terrain's pretty nasty with all the mud and stuff," Peters said. "While RCC launched, they weren't able to get to the search area, so search efforts are definitely ongoing."

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