UPDATE: SAR finds missing snowmachiners deceased

A search team recovered the bodies of a couple who got caught in a storm between Teller and Nome as they traveled the 70 miles from Teller on Sunday.
Alaska State Troopers said that Dustin Gologergen, 55, and his partner Charlene Habros, 34, were found deceased near mile 41 of the Nome-Teller Highway.
Next of kin have been notified.
 They had left Teller on Sunday evening on a single snow machine. and when they didn’t arrive in Nome that night, the Alaska State Troopers were notified on Monday at 7:09 a.m. Troopers 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 there.
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 weather turned so bad that the were forced to turn around as well. Teller recorded gusts up to 60 mph.
Troopers 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.

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.

Troopers said in a dispatch that the search team arrived at the location where the snowmachine was observed by the C130, and located Charlene Habros and Dustin Gologergen deceased.

 

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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