Douglas R. Guthrie 1981-05-10

Fall Kills Valdez Man On Hunt

By Julie Anne Gold, ADN 5/10/81

A Valdez police officer died this weekend in a fall while on a hunting trip in the Prince William Sound area.

A member of the Valdez Fire Department spotted the body of Douglas R. Guthrie, 26, about 10 p.m. Friday at the 1500-foot level of a steep cliff, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman in Valdez said.

Guthrie had been bear hunting with a companion around noon Friday when the two men separated to track a black bear, said Coast Guardsman Harold Neilson.

Neilson said Guthrie fell between 400 and 500 feet.

The Valdez Fire Department was notified of Guthrie's disappearance about 6 p.m., after he failed to show up at a rendezvous, Fire Chief Tom McAllister said.

"I don't know what happened," McAllister said Saturday. "It could have been a rock or snow slide, we don't know."

The fire department, the Coast Guard and a local helicopter firm joined in the search.

The Coast Guard Cutter Bitt, stationed four miles from Valdez, dropped a rescue crew of 14 men on the beach near Gold Creek, McAllister said, while John McCammish, a pilot for ERA Helicopters searched from the air.

Guthrie's body, discovered by a fireman, was transported to the beach by the helicopter.

While trying to take off from the beach, the helicopter rolled over at about two feet and crashed, McCammish said.

"It was getting late in the evening and I just tried to rush," McCammish said. "I loaded the helicopter wrong."

No one was injured in the crash. But McCammish said the helicopter was demolished.

The cutter Bitt ferried the rescuers and Guthrie's body back to Valdez.

Guthrie is survived by his wife Linda and a son, a spokeswoman for the Valdez Police Department said.