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Search for Fairbanks hunter missing off Dalton Highway suspended

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

The official search for a Fairbanks man last seen this month during a remote hunting trip off the Dalton Highway has been suspended after air and ground efforts found no sign of him.

Dalton Hanson, 23, walked away from a hunting camp near Mile 8 of the highway, according to a Monday dispatch from Alaska State Troopers summarizing the search for him.

"At (10:40 a.m.) on Sept. 10, Alaska State Troopers' Fairbanks Rural Unit received the report that Hanson was missing and was not wearing clothing for the weather or had any survival gear with him," troopers wrote. "A search for Hanson began that day and continued until Sept. 18 when the search was suspended pending new leads and information."

Many agencies and law enforcement officers participated in the weeklong search for Hanson, including Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers and village public safety officers along with Interior Alaska Wilderness Search and Rescue Team and MAT-SAR members backed up by PAWS search-and-rescue dogs. Volunteers from Fairbanks and North Pole also helped with the search.

Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said that despite poor conditions, at least two trooper helicopters as well as Piper Super Cub airplanes flown by troopers helped look for Hanson.

"The weather was really bad in that area: they had rain, sleet, snow to deal with," Ipsen said. "We had Helo-3 involved, they had Helo-5, they had the Super Cubs flying the area."

Ipsen said even ground searchers had difficulty reaching the hunting camp, a two-person cabin in rough territory about eight miles off the highway. All-terrain vehicles, brought by an Interior Alaska Wilderness Search and Rescue Team volunteer, were crucial in reaching the search area.

"It wasn't something [the hunters] wanted to draw attention to -- the trail wasn't well-established," Ipsen said. "The only way that [searchers] were able to get back into that area was Argos (ATVs); they had some that broke."

Ipsen hadn't heard of any unofficial searches continuing after troopers' withdrawal from the area. She said the failure of efforts to find Hanson has been a blow to searchers, who wanted to give his loved ones a definitive answer as to his fate.

"We're trying to get closure for the family," Ipsen said.

Troopers said Hanson was last seen wearing a camouflage jacket, black pants and boots. Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call Fairbanks troopers at 907-451-5100.

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