Daniel Nicolai, 12-03-05

Alaska Digest

Published: December 7, 2005


Man dies after drinking, getting snowmachine stuck, troopers say.

A Gakona man visiting Mentasta died of exposure after his snowmobile became stuck in a ditch.

Daniel Nicolai, 22, was found dead Saturday morning about a half-mile from the small village on the Tok Cutoff about 175 miles southeast of Fairbanks.

He knocked on a friend's house at around 2:30 a.m. to ask for help getting his snowmobile out of a ditch and had been drinking, Alaska State Troopers said.

"He asked some friends to help get him out of a ditch and they thought he was talking about a car," troopers spokesman Greg Wilkinson said. "They told him to go home."

After friends went outside to check on Nicolai and could not find him, they called the village public safety officer about 3 a.m., Tok trooper Maurice Salinas said.

Searchers found Nicolai a little before 9 a.m. about a quarter-mile down the trail from where the snowmobile was stuck.

He was dressed in a sweatshirt, bluejeans and one sneaker.

Mentasta is a community of about 140 people 38 miles southwest of Tok.

The temperature in Tok on Friday night was 15 below and the wind was blowing, Salinas said.

"With the wind chill, it could easily have been 35 below," he said.

-- The Associated Press