Jesse "Alan" Dicks, 10/29/99

By Karen Aho, ADN 10/31/99

Friends at the Wolverine Lodge had told Jesse "Alan" Dicks repeatedly Friday not to drive his snowmachine across Lake Louise.

Dicks, 60, didn't listen. Minutes after he took off and rounded a bend on his way home, his snowmachine crashed through thin ice over deep water, Alaska State Troopers said.

Friends had already called for help but were unable to save his life. "We'd all been telling him all day not to do it," lodge owner Robert "Tree" Farmer said. "When I saw him going, I started calling on the radio."

Lake Louise is an 8-mile-long lake off the Glenn Highway 47 miles from Glennallen that has grown into a recreation haven. Several lodges and a string of cabins line the lake's shore. The open terrain makes it a popular draw for snowmachiners.

About 30 residents stay year-round. Dicks had long been one of them. He had worked in the oil fields of Wyoming and Alaska before buying the Montana Creek Lodge, north of Willow, which he sold about 20 years ago. He and his wife, Peggy, moved to Lake Louise and bought the Wolverine Lodge. They sold it in 1992 to retire, Farmer said, but Dicks often spent time there and still jokingly referred to the place as his.

"It's just been a real devastating situation for everybody on the lake," Lake Louise Lodge manager Jim Wallace said. "We're all a big family out here."

After Dicks left the lodge, Dan Billman took off in his van and drove to the other side of the point to see if Dicks would safely make it around. Ice had formed only the day before atop 60-foot-deep water.

Farmer phoned the nearby Lake Louise Lodge and told Bill Rice to take his airboat out on the lake just in case. Rice grabbed Don Dickerson and was gone.

Within minutes they found Dicks in the water.

Rice and Dickerson pulled him into the airboat and started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as they skimmed back over the lake ice to Lake Louise Lodge, Farmer said.

At the lodge, residents conducted cardiopulmonary resuscitation for 11/2 hours. When medics from the Cross Road Medical Center in Glennallen arrived, they detected a faint pulse, Farmer said.

Dicks was taken to Glennallen, then flown by medical jet to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, troopers said.

"They were trying to bring his body temperature up," Farmer said. "Late in the evening, Peggy called and said he wouldn't come up above 90 degrees. There wasn't much they could do for him."

He was pronounced dead at 11:35 p.m., about 51/2 hours after the accident, troopers said.

Farmer said no one knows just what made Dicks go out on the ice.

The ice in the cove near his home was solid, as was that in the bay near the Wolverine Lodge, residents said. But the ice over the deeper water near Army Point had just formed the day before.

"For whatever reason, he seemed to think he could do it," Farmer said. "He should have known."

Dicks is survived by his wife, two daughters and one son, as well as grandchildren.

Dicks is the third snowmachiner in less than a week to drown in Alaska.

On Wednesday, two men from the village of Selawik crashed through river ice while on an early-morning search for two missing ice fishermen. The fishermen were later found.