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Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
Five ground crews, each consisting of 3-4 people, are in the field this morning to continue to search high priority areas for missing backpackers Abby Flantz and Erica Nelson. More than 60 people are now involved in the ground and aerial search effort. Two dog teams, each consisting of a dog and its handler, have arrived this morning from the PAWS search organization in Fairbanks to assist in the search effort. Air resources available today are the high altitude Lama, a Bell 206 Long Ranger from Air Logistics of Fairbanks, and one of the park’s fixed-wing aircraft.
The search area has been expanded to include terrain west of the Savage River, to investigate possible routes the pair may have taken if they didn’t cross the Savage River due to high water conditions. The area being searched is approximately 100 square miles, and consists of rugged, trailless, terrain ranging in elevation from approximately 2, 000 feet to 6,000 feet.
Flantz and Nelson were last seen on Thursday, June 12 on the Savage River Trail downstream of the Savage River bridge. They had obtained their wilderness permit earlier that day, and their planned itinerary was to do a one night backpacking trip and return on Friday, June 13. The National Park Service was notified that they were overdue on Saturday, June 14 when they failed to report for work at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge.
As part of the investigation supporting the search effort, National Park Service search managers would like to speak with anyone who was hiking in the Savage River drainage between Thursday, June 12 and Sunday, June 15. Anyone who may have information to share is asked to call (907) 683-9648.