High winds, heavy rain and poor communications have hampered a
search for Robert Johnson, 38, an Anchorage hunter missing in the
hills above Sunday Harbor near Port Dick. Severe weather stopped
several searches earlier this week by Alaska State Troopers and
Alaska Air National Guard units, but pararescuers from the Air
National Guard at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday landed at a hunting base camp,
contacted the missing man's friend, Grant Gaberino, also of
Anchorage, and started a ground search.
"We've been sending in resources, it's been turned around," said
Megan Peters, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Public
Safety. "We send in another resource, it's been turned around."
Gaberino and Johnson set up camp on Saturday, Sept. 4. Johnson
had gone to scout the area for mountain goats, and when he did not
return, Gaberino reported him missing about 9:45 p.m. by satellite
phone to troopers. The hunters were in the hills above Sunday Harbor
on the Gore Point peninsula at the southern end of the Kenai
Peninsula and about 35 miles southeast of Homer. Peaks in the area
are 2,000 feet and higher, with generally steep terrain.
A trooper helicopter attempted to search the area early Sunday
but had to turn back. A second helicopter went out on Monday and
made it to the beach at Sunday Harbor, but couldn't make it to the
mountains and the base camp.
An Air National Guard helicopter and C-130 also tried to search.
U.S. Coast Guard crews also will assist in the search effort if
The marine weather for Gore Point on Wednesday was southeast
winds 30 knots with gusts to 40 knots, rain and 13-foot seas. The
forecast for Thursday is southeast winds 25 knots, rain and 11-foot
seas, lessening to 15 knots Thursday night.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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