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3 missing near Kwethluk; ATV recovered from river

A rescue crew Saturday afternoon recovered a four-wheeler beneath newly formed ice on the Kuskokwim River, and three people were missing.

Two men and a woman who were supposed to be traveling from the Western Alaska hub of Bethel to the village of Akiak by four-wheeler were overdue, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Search crews from Akiak, Bethel and Kwethluk were alerted Saturday morning of the trio who had been traveling in a snowstorm on a single four-wheeler. They were last seen at a camp above Kwethluk, according to Bethel Search and Rescue.

An Alaska State Trooper pilot flew over the area Saturday, and rescuers spotted a set of ATV tracks going into an open hole in the river ice on the Kuskokuak Slough near Kwethluk. Bethel Search and Rescue had been warning of open holes on that slough and had advised against travel in that area.

Ground teams then confirmed the tracks and recovered the four-wheeler. It matched the description of the one used by the missing travelers, according to Bethel Search and Rescue and troopers.

Rescuers said they don't know whether any of those missing got off the four-wheeler before it went into the water. They didn't release names of the overdue travelers, nor did troopers.

None of the missing people have been located, and the search continues, troopers said. Their families have been notified.

The Bethel group asked that search groups wanting to help contact the Kwethluk public safety office.

Contact Lisa Demer at ldemer@alaskadispatch.com.