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Contact: Maureen Gualtieri, (907) 733-9103
DENALI NATIONAL PARK, AK: Ground and aerial search teams are looking for an overdue hiker in Denali National Park and Preserve. Based on plans shared with his employer, Michael Purdy, age 24 of Portland, OR, intended to do multiple day hikes in the national park during the days prior to starting his second season of summer employment at Denali ATV Tours in Healy, AK. Purdy did not appear at his first scheduled day of work on Friday, April 29, and his employer reported him missing to Park officials the following day.
Park rangers located Purdy's vehicle at the Savage East parking lot at Mile 15 of the Park Road. Based on sightings by rangers and other staff, the vehicle has potentially been parked at that location since Tuesday, April 26. The vehicle contains what appears to be Purdy's overnight backpacking gear, along with some food and supplies.Friends, family, and co-workers describe Mike Purdy as an adventurous and experienced backcountry hiker familiar with the park, and who has generally maintained consistent communications when travelling. Purdy's last known cell phone calls were made to his employer on Tuesday, April 26.
Rangers performed a hasty search from the Savage River Trailhead Saturday evening in response to the call from Purdy's employer. On Sunday morning, May 1, an aerial search for Purdy was underway, focusing efforts on the Savage River, Mt. Margaret, and Healy Ridge. Five ground teams comprised of 15 searchers and one search and rescue dog are covering the same search zones, with additional ground personnel searching the terrain with spotting scopes.
The search vicinity is characterized by steep, brushy terrain with some snow patches. The Savage River is generally free of ice, though frozen creek crossings on upland slopes are hazardous to backcountry travel.Weather has generally been mild and clear over the past week, with minimal precipitation. Daytime temperatures have ranged between 50 F and 55 F, with freezing temperatures overnight.Updates will be forthcoming as the search unfolds.