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BODY OF MISSING KAKE HUNTER RECOVERED

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, AK

Friday, January 02, 2004

ANCHORAGE

Rescuers found the body of a second overdue hunter Friday but were holding out hope that a teenage boy who disappeared with the two men might still be alive.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew recovered the body of 28-year-old Gery Davies on the northern shore of Kupreanof Island about 3:30 p.m., Alaska State Troopers said. But there was no sign of David Mills, 14, as darkness set in Friday evening.

Searchers said they would head out again at daybreak Saturday.

"There's always hope, even with us, that this person is alive," Trooper Chris Umbs said in a phone interview from Kake.

Coast Guard Lt. Michael McNeil said Davies' body was found 12 to 14 miles east of where the body of 43-year-old Rick Mills, the missing boy's father, was found dead Thursday. The site is about 10 miles north of Kake, a Tlingit village of 700.

Umbs said both men apparently drowned. The bodies have been released to their families.

"They're pretty distraught," Umbs said. "It's one of the hardest things of this job, trying to talk to families when someone dies."

Mills' body had washed ashore about a mile from a beach where the hunters' overturned 16-foot skiff was found. He was wearing foul weather clothing and flotation gear, said Petty Officer Richard Reichenbach.

The Coast Guard, troopers and as many as 70 volunteers from Kake launched an intensive search after Judy Mills reported Wednesday night that her husband had failed to return from a hunt with their son and Davies.

The three left Kake on Tuesday morning to hunt deer on the southern part of Admiralty Island, across Frederick Sound from Kupreanof. They planned to return home that night.

High seas and strong winds delayed the Coast Guard's search until Thursday morning, officials said.

Reichenbach said the men might have run into rough weather. The skiff was damaged, as if it had been banged around, he said.

The mishap deeply touched the village, prompting a rush of volunteer searchers. Even several local fishing boats were enlisted, Reichenbach said.

"It's a small, tight-knit village, so everyone gets out and searches," he said. "It's a difficult thing because everyone knows everyone."

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