BETHEL SEARCH & RESCUE ANNUAL MEETING
Jan. 22, 2014 @ Headquarters
Dinner at 6 pm
Meeting starts at 7 pm
ALL MEMBERS ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND AND BRING YOUR FAMILIES, TOO!
BSAR searching for Bethel man
January 7, 2014
BSAR is conducting a search effort for a Bethel man who has been missing since before Christmas.
On December 22, 2013, BSAR was given notice that Preston Michaels had not been seen since December 17 and conducted a hasty search of all the fishcamps across from Bethel by the old airport, the area where Preston was last seen.
BSAR continued to conduct searches from the missing man since then. In the latest effort, 30-plus volunteers from BSAR and Napaskiak SAR groups combed the area again on Saturday Jan. 4, including the wood-cutting areas and trails in the old airport area but found no sign of Preston.
On Sunday Jan. 5, trails and roads around the Bethel Boat Harbor and Hangar Lake areas were searched with no luck. The Bethel-Akiachak trails and snowmachine trails in the wooded areas to Church Slough from Bethel were also checked but with no results.
Sources say Preston may have been a black down jacket and black snow pants, a white baseball cap along with a black beanie cap, and brown boots.
If anyone knows the whereabouts of Preston Michaels or may have information concerning him, please call BSAR at 545-HELP, the Bethel City Police at 311 or 543-3781, or the Alaska State Troopers at 543-2294.
SPOT device 'saves' stranded travelers
January 6, 2014
On New Year's Day, BSAR received a text message from a SPOT device (a personal locator beacon) asking for help from a stranded snowmachiner around the Eek Lake region.
A hasty SAR team was dispatched from Napaskiak which located the distressed snowmachine. The SAR team found individuals there and brought them back to Napaskiak and then Bethel.
BSAR holds annual fund raiser
Folks pour out from the bleachers during the BSAR Fiddle Dance to donate cash into a box for the victims of the ERA Caravan crash in St. Mary's on Friday.
December 1, 2013
On Nov. 29 and 30, 2013, the Bethel Search and Rescue organization held its annual Fiddle Dance fund raiser at the Bethel Regional High School gym. BSAR raises money during the annual Fiddle Dance for its search and rescue operations for the year.
The BSAR Fiddle Dance event included a raffle for cash prizes, a drum of heating fuel from Delta Western, a snowsuit from YKHC, a chain saw and ice auger, chopped wood from Napaimute Tribal Council, an ipad from GCI, a tow hitch from Shorty's Shop, homemade sleds by Jake Johnson and homemade crosses by Don Johnson, and gift certifcates from Crowley's.
Three beautiful homemade Yupik parkas made by Olga Riley were also raffled off. During the event, the VFW in Bethel presented a check for $5,000. The Kusko 300 organization also contributed $1,000.
This year's included a prayer and donation event for the victims of the caravan crash on Friday night that killed four people and injured 6 near St. Mary's. A prayer and song was held by elder Paul John of Toksook Bay, afterwhich a cardboard box was placed in the middle of the floor and everyone was asked to donate cash. Audience members streams out the bleachers and filled up the box with about $1,500 in cash.
During this time, the BSAR organization hands out awards for certain recognitions. This year's Business of the Year is ERA Aviation. The Elder Search and Rescue Volunteer of the Year is Henry Tikiun, Sr. of Atmautluak. The BSAR Rookie of the Year is Francis Harpak. Finally, the BSAR Member of the Year is Allen Joseph.
This year's annual BSAR fund raiser was a huge success, said BSAR President Mike Riley. "I would like to thank all the businesses who gave to the event and all who came to the fiddle dance," he said. "Without your support, the fund raiser wouldn't be a 'big hit'. Much thanks to the VFW and the Kusko 300 group for their donations."
This year, the BSAR Fiddle Dance was made possible by the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, under whose gaming permit the event was held.
Alakanuk elder goes missing
December 1, 2013
Yesterday, Nov. 30, 2013, Gus Lee, and elder in Alakanuk went missing after taking off to check his blackfish traps in the afternoon, but did not return as expected.
A hasty crew of three SAR volunteers went out into the night to see if they could locate him but could not. The crew then returned to Alakanuk to make another attempt in the morning.
Three search crews began searching today, and they were assisted by DPS aircraft. Mr. Lee was found along the coast cold and wet. He had gotten disoriented and ended up along the seashore, and had gotten stuck.
The search crews brought him home immediately to Alakanuk where he is reported to be doing fine.
Search halted due to freeze-up
November 17, 2013
The Tuntutuliak SAR crews continued their search for Saturday but reported that both the Kialik and Qinaq River, where Tuntutuliak is located, were freezing up and that it was difficult to return home after yesterday's search.
Due to freeze up and ice conditions, the search crews will halt the search temporarily.
The Tuntutuliak SAR volunteers will continue to search the Kialik River for Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka as soon as they able to access the area by snowmachines or ATVs. A new update will be posted if the search is resumed.
Our hats are off to the Tuntutuliak SAR volunteers for their dedication and sacrifice, for thinking of others in the way they are doing so.
The ice in Bethel is getting thick, really moving, say Bethel seawall ice fishers.
Search continues, on both land and water
November 15, 2013
Having access to the Kialik River, the Tuntutuliak boys today continued searching for the two missing men, Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka, and have plans to continue searching tomorrow, weather permitting.
The searchers received some assistance today from Bruce Franscisco of Kwethluk and Jason Larson from Napaskiak, who flew down to Tunt by plane to help out. Thanks to ERA Airlines for flying them down.
BSAR has informed the Tuntutuliak crews that we will be able to help with whatever they ask for or with anything they might need for the search.
The Kuskokwim River opened up again today (most likely due to a jam upriver), allowing a few boaters to venture out, but with cold temperatures finally falling in Bethel, the river is most likely going to close up again.
Tuntutuliak volunteers resume search with no results
November 14, 2013
With the weather much improved today, the Tuntutuliak SAR volunteers headed out today and continued their search for Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka, in the area where two search dog teams developed "hits" last week when they were dispatched to the area to help in pinpointing the possible location of the two missing men.
There were no results to report of concerning today's search.
Bethel and most communities upriver of Tuntutuliak are barred from boating on the Kuskokwim, due to the arrival of pack ice from the colder upriver regions.
Kialik River search on hold
November 13, 2013
For the last few days, searchers from the lower Kuskokwim were unable to travel to the Kialik River search site, to continue looking for Nick Cooke of Bethel and James L. Napoka of Tuluksak. Weather has been the main factor in keeping the searchers from continuing.
Yesterday, the ice in the Kuskokwim packed into the Bethel area and jammed, ending the boating season for Bethel and the surrounding villages. The Tuntutuliak SAR group has indicated they will continue searching for as long as possible until they are forced to end their search by weather or ice. Tuntutuliak is the closest community to the Kialik River area.
Kotlik devastated by storm, braces for more
November 12, 2013 1:00 PM
For the last couple days, Kotlik has been attempting to return to some kind of normalcy, after a weekend storm that brought flooding and ice floes from the Norton Sound and into the village that destroyed much of the water and sewer system and damaged at least 5 homes, as well as other property and infrastructure around the village.
The floodwaters came up so high that around 200 people had to be evacuated to the high school in the middle of the night. But the waters rushed in so quickly that some people were stranded in their flooded homes until a boat could be launched to rescue them.
The sidewalk system was also damaged, and many steam bath homes were tipped over by the high water. Debris and boats littered the airport which had to be removed to allow planes to land, however, the airport remains closed until an inspector announces it sound. A small fuel leak was reported at the school when a pipe broke, but the leak was contained.
Due to damage to the water pump, the community is unable to make water. A water tank with 12 feet of water is the only water source at this point, however, the community is using a foot a day. A relief plane bound for Kotlik with a new water pump and repair parts is awaiting weather and airport clearance. The plane will also carry bottled water, medical supplies and flu vaccinations for people that require them.
A new weather front is bearing down from the north on Kotlik and the northern Y-K Delta areas. It is expected to bring winds, rain and snow and possibly more flooding.
The Kotlik city council has declared a disaster, and has forwarded a copy of their declaration to the Dept. of Homeland Security as well as the Governor's office. A regional disaster response team consisting of representatives from major organizations based in Bethel is coordinating a response effort.
More Kotlik flood stories:
-KTUU "Kotlik Surveys Damage..."
-Anchorage Daily News "Storm Leaves Trail Of Damage..."
BSAR ends participation in search; Tunt group to continue
November 11, 2013
Due to the threat of freeze up, the BSAR volunteers at Kialik returned to Bethel during a break in the weather Sunday.
In the last few days, upriver villages called and reported that ice was coming down in greater quantities, signaling that freeze-up was imminent in the Bethel area. The BSAR leadership discussed their options and decided it was best that volunteers from villages above Tuntutuliak return home before the main Kuskokwim freezes up and prevents their return.
Today, ice chunks began flowing through the Kuskokwim River at Bethel.
In other news, the ASARD search dog teams reported that they appeared to have two "hits" on the Kialik River search area, and the Tuntutuliak search groups will concentrate in those areas when they are able to in the next few days, weather and ice permitting.
The search dog teams returned to Anchorage today.
Storm damages homes and infrastructure in villages
Flooding at Hooper Bay separates the two sections of the village. Photo by Desi O'Brien.
November 10, 2013
The storm of the last two days brought high winds and water to most coastal villages this weekend, and although nearly every village along the Bering Sea suffered flooding, only four to five villages were most impacted.
The least impacted was Tununak, whose road to the bridge and airport was washed out. Nunam Iqua lost power and Alakanuk's road went underwater and became covered in debris. Alakanuk's taxiway and apron has been damaged by rain and floodwaters in the past week.
The Bering Sea washing out the road to the bridge in Tununak. Photo by Peter Angaiak.
Floodwaters were said to have risen quickly like a flash flooding event, residents said. About 5 persons were evacuated to the high school in Alakanuk, but they went home as the flood began receding before dawn.
Scammon Bay suffered one of its worst floods in memory, and boats had to be removed from the apron of the airport and runway, as well as other debris. A portion of the apron was most likely damaged. The pipe to the oil tanks near the fishery plant was also damaged, and a diesel spill is suspected however what amount was spilled is unknown.
Newtok suffered even more erosion from the storm, with 10's of feet of ground lost to the water. The north bank of the Ninglick River has now crept up closer to the Fueling Header (where fuel barges offload their contents) and heavy equipment. It is expected that by next year, if more drastic flooding events occur again, AVCP Housing units near the river will begin to be impacted.
The Fuel Header and other structures were spared from the recent erosion of the Ninglick River in Newtok. Photo by Paul Lincoln.
The most impacted village was Kotlik, where at least four homes were damaged or knocked off their foundations. The flood waters came up so high that one home floated away a short distance, and a steam bath floated away.
Kotlik's water and sewer system was also damaged, as the flood waters tore some pipes from homes. About 100-150 of the town's residents began evacuating last night and took shelter in the high school when the flood waters began rising quickly before midnight.
Stebbins, of the two villages just east of Kotlik, suffered nearly the same fate, as homes were knocked off their foundations and moved onto neighboring homes. At least two boats floated onto the cemetary and atop grave sites.
Search resumes for Cooke and Napoka
November 10, 2013
After two days of hiatus due to inclement weather, the search for Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka resumed today, this time with the addition of two search dogs from the Alaska Search and Rescue Dog Association out of Anchorage. The plan is to fly the dogs and their handlers to Tuntutuliak and from there, bring the search dog teams to Kialik River by boat.
ASARD volunteers Paul Stoklos with "Maro" and Deb Gillis with "Ruger" visit BSAR headquarters while waiting for weather to break
BSARs and ASARD dog handlers scope out a map of the Kialik River
The ASARD dog handlers discuss deployment plans with BSAR chief Mike Riley (2nd from left) and other BSARs.
Bethel kids get to meet the specially-trained search dogs while in Bethel Saturday.
Search on weather hold
November 8, 2013
There were no results to report of after yesterday's search.
Today's adverse weather is preventing volunteer SAR crews from continuing their search for Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka at the Kialik River site. Currently, winds are blowing around 20 mph in Bethel and gusting to 30 mph.
The forecast for today along the coast where the search is occurring calls for 25 to 35 mph hour winds and gusts to 45 mph this afternoon. A coastal flood warning remains in effect until midnight tonight.
In addition, unpacked ice is beginning to move through Bethel from upriver or inland regions where the temperature is much colder. As temperatures drop even lower, the ice will become much thicker and begin to pack.
In most years, the Kuskokwim River is frozen over by the end of October. This year, a string of unusually warm weather systems originating from the south and west Pacific Ocean areas have kept the Y-K Delta from freezing over this late into the season.
Search crews attempt another try
November 7, 2013
Search crews are moving back into the Kialik River area today to begin both water and ground search operations again, said BSAR chief Mike Riley.
While the water crews will continue dragging the Kialik River channel, another crew will search new ground on the right side of the river, Riley said.
"Although the river was still choppy this morning, it wasn't bad enough to keep search volunteers from returning to the search area," he added.
Storms batter western Alaska
November 7, 2013
Yesterday, winds howled and blew with such intensity that it forced seawater onto lowlands along the west coast of Alaska. The storm appeared to weaken toward evening, as the storm moved north and which will affect northwest Alaska much of today with high winds that gust up to 65 mph.
Flooding in Hooper Bay. Photo by Williamina O'Brien.
Hooper Bay reported a snowstorm with flooding which inundated the lowlands around the village and a portion of the road in the middle of the village. A boat or two drifted away. The nearby village of Chevak reported wind gusts as high as 61 mph.
In Toksook, wind and waves battered a parked LCM and barge owned by Alaska Logistics. Photo by Jimmie Lincoln.
Coastal flooding is forecasted to continue persisting through the weekend, surging one to three feet during high tides in the Kuskokwim Delta.
Due to the current jet stream flow, another low pressure system is expected to be pushed into the western Alaska coast again which is expected to cause more stormy weather this weekend, with heavy surf and coastal flooding. This storm is expected to bring more precipitation however, therefore heavy snowfall, rain and freezing rain are expected. The most affected areas will be the upper Yukon Kuskokwim Delta, Upper Kuskokwim, and further north.
Weather around the region
November 6, 2013 4:00 PM
At 3:00 PM, the FAA AWOS (automated weather observing system) reports for certain locations contained the following:
-At Cape Newenham: Wind SSE 33 mph, gusting to 61 mph. Clear.
-At Kipnuk: Wind E 43 mph, gusting to 48 mph. Light rain, mist.
-At Mekoryuk: Wind SSE 37 mph, gusting to 49 mph. Overcast.
-At Hooper Bay: Wind ESE 40 mph, gusting to 49 mph. Overcast.
-At Cape Romanzof: Wind 31 mph, gusting to 54 mph. Heavy snow.
-At Bethel: Wind E 15 mph. Overcast.
The Cape Newenham and Kipnuk FAA AWOS's are closest to the Kialik River area.
Quinhagak boaters missing
UPDATE: November 6, 2013 2:00 PM
It has been reported that the three missing boaters have arrived or been located at the village of Quinhagak as of 1:00 PM today, with confirmation coming from the local authorities in Quinhagak.
November 6, 2013 - Original story
Yesterday, a report was made to Bethel Search and Rescue about people in one boat that were supposedly heading to Quinhagak from Napakiak, but not have been heard from since Monday, the day of their travel.
Walter Johnson, Robert Guest and Adolph Paul were traveling in a Lund with a 70-hp Yamaha. The last message from the boaters was that they were leaving Napakiak and approaching the Johnson River, but were experiencing some kind of motor trouble.
A hasty team from BSAR on Tuesday searched the waterways from Bethel all the way to Kialik River but did not see another boat. Another hasty team from Quinhagak motored from their village to Eek but did not see anything either. Eek volunteers headed to the Kialik River search area for Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka reported seeing nothing either.
Currently an Alaska State Trooper aircraft is conducting an aerial search of the Lower Kuskokwim area, including the back sloughs to the Iinrayak River by way of Pismeof Lake.
If anyone has information about these three men, please contact the Alaska State Troopers at 543-2294 or Bethel Search and Rescue at 545-HELP.
This is a developing story. More information will be provided as it comes.
Searchers sit out storm
November 6, 2013
Searchers from Tuntutuliak and BSAR are hunkering down in Tuntutuliak as the storm that moved into the Bering Sea yesterday begins reaching the Y-K Delta coast today. Currently, winds in Mekoryuk are gusting as high as 54 mph and in Kipnuk 45 mph.
The volunteers left Kialik River in the late afternoon yesterday as the winds picked up and kicked up 3-foot waters on the Kuskokwim, which were enough to cause spray and get boaters a little wet.
NWS downgrades storm
November 6, 2013
After blowing as much as 86 miles an hour along the Aleutian chain, the National Weather Service has canceled the high wind warnings throughout much of the Bering Sea area, as its front moves away in a northeasterly direction toward southwest Alaska.
However, winds of 45 mph are still being forecasted along the coast and 57.5 mph along the seas between Kuskokwim Delta and Nelson Island. Flooding is still imminent for southwest Alaska, says the NWS in their weather briefings.
Arrival of search dogs postponed
November 5, 2013 5:00 PM
The arrival of the ASARD dogs tonight to assist in the search for Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka this week has been postponed due to an approaching storm, according to Lt. David Tracy of the Alaska State Troopers in Bethel.
Instead, the specialized dogs will arrive on Friday night and are scheduled to be on-site at Kialik River Saturday and Sunday, Lt. Tracy added.
Powerful storm hits Aleutians
November 5, 2013
This morning, a storm system that spawned off a powerful tyhpoon made its way into the Bering Sea and pounded the Aleutians, bringing wind gusts of up to 70 mph.
Although the eye of the storm will linger out in the Bering Sea (until this coming weekend when it's expected to move ashore), its outer bands are forecasted to affect the western Alaska coast, includng the Kuskokwim Delta, bringing near-60-mph winds beginning Wednesday.
As a result of the storm system, a coastal flood watch is also in effect from Wednesday afternoon through Friday. A storm surge of one-to-three feet is forecasted, and low areas are expected to be inundated with flood waters.
Today, six boats are dragging the Kialik River, while two boats are continuing the ground search. Yesterday, an unidentified elderly man stopped by the searchers and suggested such.
Two teams of search dogs are scheduled to arrive tonite into Bethel and assist in the search tomorrow, weather permitting.
Monday's search unfruitful
November 4, 2013 8:30 PM
Search volunteers from Bethel and Tuntutuliak returned today to the Kialik River area to continue their search for the two missing men Nick Cooke of Bethel and James L. Napoka of Tuluksak.
The crews continued to drag the river today, but without success.
Yesterday, on Sunday, a small crew from Tuntutuliak was able to boat to Kialik River during a break in the weather and searched on land until dark. The search however yielded nothing as well.
Two crews of search dogs to assist
November 4, 2013 11:15 AM
On Tuesday night, November 5, two teams of handlers and dogs will arrive in Bethel to take part in the search for Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka, said Lt. David Tracy of the Alaska State Troopers in Bethel.
The two dog crews will then travel to the Kialik River on Wednesday and take part in the search all that day, weather permitting. The use of the dogs will be very specific however and limited to the recovery efforts on the water, Lt. Tracy said.
The dogs and their handlers originate from the Alaska Search and Rescue Dogs or ASARD organization in Anchorage. They expect to return to Anchorage on Wednesday night.
Search still on hold due to weather
November 3, 2013
This morning, the Tuntutuliak SAR group attempted a return to the Kialik River to resume tne search for Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka, however they were forced back by waves of up to 5 feet along the Kuskokwim River.
The Kialik River area is close to the coastline and is experiencing stronger winds than the Bethel area. A new low pressure system is moving into the area and may cause winds and waves to continue through Monday.
Big contingent of Eek volunteers assist in search
Volunteers "dragging" the bottom of the Kialik River
November 1, 2013 8:00 PM
The search party doing recovery operations on the Kialik River got a boost of help from the village of Eek (from the Yup'ik word Iik for "eyes") as 40 of their residents arrived to volunteer in the search for Nick Cooke and James L. Napoka today.
Over 60 volunteers dragged the river and combed the back woods today until the approaching storm's early front began to blow into the vicinity in the late afternoon.
Taking the arrival of the winds as a warning, some SAR crews began to disperse for their villages. Some went to Tuntutuliak to take refuge there, in order to get back to the search site as soon as possible after the storm blows over.
There were no results from the first day's recovery operations.
Approaching storm concerns searchers
November 1, 2013 3:30 PM
A low pressure system is churning in the Bering Sea region which is forecasted to arrive later today and begin affecting the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta through Saturday, including the Kialik River area where the search operations for Nick Cooke and James Napoka are on-going.
The storm is forecasted to bring gusty winds along the coast tonite, and there is concern that the front will push water into the search area and inundate the campsites used by the SAR volunteers.
"The SAR operation at the Kialik River may have to be suspended for safety reasons", said Mike Riley, President of BSAR. "We hate to do it, but we'll have to pull out our boys and tents out of that area if it gets too dangerous."
The SAR groups are camping in two locations, one next to the search area and one near a shelter cabin a couple bends above the search area. The nearest community is Tuntutuliak, 10 miles downstream of the Kialik River, and search crews may have to seek shelter there if needed.
The weather forecast call for 25 to 35 mph winds in the area, with gusts as strong as 45 mph. The Kialik River is located close to the coast line and in an area of the Kuskokwim River that gets rough during strong easterly to southwesterly winds. Snow, fog and rain are also forecasted.
If the SAR teams suspend operations due to dangerous weather, they will return to the search area as soon as the weather permits.
Search turns to recovery
November 1, 2013
After an agressive ground and air search campaign in the past week in the vicinity of the lower Kialik River for the two missing men--Nick Cooke and James Napoka--but turning up empty-handed, the SAR crews in the area will begin recovery operations at first light today.
The decision to change tactics was based on a meeting in Tuntutuliak last night with the elders.
The recovey operations will entail "dragging" the Kialik River in the area where the upturned boat was found. However, a small but experienced crew will continue searching for the men in the back sloughs, creeks and wooded areas in case the men are still on land.
In other developments, the Alaska State Troopers have decided to pull out their search operations as of last night; however, Bethel Search and Rescue crews and other villages SARs will continue their search efforts for a much longer time.
BSAR, on behalf of itself and other search crews, would like to thank the Alaska State Troopers for their support in this and other search and rescue operations in the past.
Intensive search comes up empty
October 31, 2013 8:00 PM
A group of volunteers prepares to head out today
Today, searchers trying to follow tracks and others combing the wooded areas for the two missing men were unable to find anything despite what they believed was an exhaustive search today.
"I think the searchers have pretty much covered all the lower Kialik River areas that we think are possible places where Nick Cooke and Jim Napoka could have gone to, if they were on land," said Mike Riley, head of the Bethel Search and Rescue group.
"In addition, the tracks the searchers have been following have not led to anything substantial," Riley added. "The tracks go and then disappear. Then they reappear elsewhere, but maybe one or two steps and are gone again."
Even so, the searchers combed the areas where the tracks were headed looking for the missing men, and for any additional leads they could find. Although plenty of items belonging to the men have been found, the searchers are coming up empty.
Tonight, the searchers gathered in Tuntutuliak for a meeting with the SAR group there and elders in the community, to discuss how the search has been going, as well as, to obtain advice from the elders and make decisions on the next phase of the search.
SARs continue searching
October 31, 2013, 12:30 pm
Volunteers from many villages from the Lower Kuskokwim resumed their search this morning for Nick Cooke and James Napoka, beginning from where they left off last night. Yesterday, searchers were following tracks in two different locations.
Boats park below the Nick Cooke/Jim Napoka boat and use the location as a starting point in the search
A smaller group of the many volunteers debrief and plan for the next part of their search
Volunteers bunk in a shelter cabin and tents at the end of the day
BSAR donation account opened
October 31, 2013
There is so much interest in this search that many calls are being made to the Bethel Search and Rescue headquarters, either to ask the latest information on the search or to make a donation of some kind.
Although such calls are welcome, we encourage all people at this time to be mindful that an active search is occurring and we need to keep those phone lines clear for searchers, troopers and others involved in the search to make reports to us.
For those people wishing to make cash donations for this search effort, we encourage you to visit a Wells Fargo Bank and make a donation to the "Bethel Search and Rescue Cooke/Napoka Fund, account #3877226633."
Thank you very much for your interest in BSAR's activities and for supporting our efforts in our search and rescue missions.
Evidence of the lost men still being found
October 30, 2013
As of today, items that are thought to have been carried in the boat used by Nick Cooke and James Napoka are still being found in the search grid around the lower Kialik River and are providing leads for searchers to narrow their focus while looking for the two men.
As of 4:00 pm today, no sign of the men themselves have been found, however, the searchers are still following footprints. About 60 searchers from the Lower Kuskokwim villages are in the area.
It has been one week now since Nick Cooke and James Napoka are said to have made their way to Tuntutuliak for a funeral and most likely experienced motor problems in the Helmick Point-Kialik River section of the Kuskokwim river. No one knows how the men became separated from their boat.
Storm for weekend forecasted
In that timeframe, the weather has been both good and bad. While the weather has cooperated for the most part, the worst of the weather occurred during the weekend after the men were reported missing, when an arctic cyclone pushing 70 mile-an-hour winds rammed the Y-K Delta and caused flooding in the lower Kuskokwim, including Bethel.
The storm was most likely remnants of Typhoon Francisco, which brushed Japan and made its way northeast to Alaska.
A less severe weather front is expected for Friday and/or Saturday, with the marine forecast for the Kuskokwim Delta to Etolin Straights calling for winds of up to 40 mph along the coast. The Kialik River is two bends from the mouth of the Kuskokwim River.
More footprints found leading away from the river
October 29, 2013
Today, searchers swarmed wide areas of the Kialik River in an effort to locate Nick Cooke of Bethel and James Lee Napoka of Tuluksak, which have been missing since Wednesday, October 23.
In doing so, the searchers found more foot tracks around 2:00 pm today along banks of sloughs and marshy areas leading away from the river which appeared to be headed toward Tuntutuliak.
A three-quarter full gas tank was also found one mile inland inside a slough with additional tracks leading away from it. Along these tracks branches were broken and tipped in a manner pointed in the direction the maker of the footprints was headed.
Searchers are now concentrating their search efforts in the area where the tracks were found.
James Napoka was last seen wearing a 1-piece dark snowsuit. Nick Cooke was wearing dark snow pants and white tennis shoes, but it's unknown what other outerwear he was wearing.
SAR groups from Bethel Search and Rescue, Kasigluk, Eek, Napaskiak, Tuntutuliak and Napakiak are participating in the search effort.
Tonight's weather forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies, isolated rain and snow showers along the coast in the evening. Then patchy fog after midnight, with lows around 30. Wind is expected from the northeast blowing 10 to 20 mph.
Lower Kuskokwim SAR teams searching for Nick Cooke of Bethel and Jim Napoka of Tuluksak