SAR still looking for two overdue snow machiners between Teller and Nome

Nome and Teller search and rescue groups are searching for two overdue travelers from Teller to Nome who left Teller in the evening around 5 p.m. on Sunday December 10 on a single snowmachine and didn’t arrive in Nome.

 

As of Tuesday afternoon, search parties are still trying to locate Dustin Gologergen, 55, and his partner Charlene Habros, 34.

 

Alaska State Troopers were notified on Monday at 7:09 a.m. and requested Nome and Teller Search and Rescue teams to start a ground search.

 

 According to Nome Volunteer Fire Department/ Search and Rescue Chief Jim West Jr. a hasty team consisting of two volunteers on snowmachine went out on Monday and made it to mile 33 before hitting severe weather that forced them to turn around. The Rescue Coordination Center dispatched an Alaska National Guard C-130 plane from JBER. The plane circled the area and spotted a single snowmachine with a detached sled and what looked like a purposefully made tarp shelter. \

 

They did not see any signs of the two missing people.

 

West Jr. said the snowmachine was located just past the turnoff to Wooley Lagoon around mile 41, a notoriously dangerous blowhole. West said that strong winds gusting up to 70 mph and blowing snow prevented the hasty team to get this far.

 

From the Teller side, a hasty team of three snowmachiners made it to the El Dorado shelter cabin on Monday, where they saw signs that somebody had been there recently. However, the stormy weather got so bad that they were forced to turn around, as well. Teller had wind gusts up to 60 mph.

According to Troopers, they chartered a Bering Air helicopter, but weather prevented the helicopter from flying in the search area.

Teller Mayor Blanche Okbaok Garnie told the Nugget that a SAR team consisting of Nick Topkok and Swenson Tocktoo went out with their personal rigs on Monday around 3:20 p.m. to check the shelter cabin known as Ten Mile cabin and El Dorado cabin. According to Garnie, the Teller crew came home, dried up, ate dinner and went back out with Charles Okpealuk, an additional searcher, trying to make it to where the snowmachine and the tarp were spotted. “The storm was too bad, no visibility and gravel wore down their skis skegs plastics, made it hard for them to steer,” she reported. One searcher crashed, broke his windshield and hurt himself but doesn’t appear to have broken anything. They had to turn back and made it back to Teller at 4:22 a.m.

While the mayor’s immediate wishes are for adequate search and rescue equipment and her thoughts turned to grant writing for a list of needed gear and equipment for future search and rescue missions, she said, “The two people out there are in my thoughts and prayers also I’m hopeful for them. I believe they were dressing appropriately, made a shelter with their sled and tarp and have a chance to be found and make it home, but if Nome doesn’t have luck today we will regroup a plan tomorrow.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Jim West said the SAR team has reconvened on Tuesday morning, 5 a.m. forging plans to activate other entities. An Alaska Dept. of Transportation grader went out to remove snow from the Nome-Teller Highway and didn’t get farther than mile 18 before hitting bad weather. West said NJUS made a tracked vehicle available and volunteers joined NJUS assistant manager and SAR volunteer Ken Morton to use the vehicle to get to the search area. In addition, two Nome SAR snowmachiners are out again to continue the search.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762
USA

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

www.nomenugget.net

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