Dwayne Lake, 08-08-04


Fairbanks hunter drowns trying to ferry caribou across river

A Fairbanks man drowned while crossing the Sagavanirktok River after a caribou hunt.

Dwayne Lake, 38, was last seen by his friend, 43-year-old Eric Colledge, about 5:10 p.m. Sunday. He was in neck-deep water in the river, said Lt. Kelly Alzaharna with the North Slope Borough Police Department.

The two had killed a caribou and had planned to float the animal to their truck instead of packing it out a couple of miles, Alzaharna said.

The truck was parked at roughly Mile 320 Dalton Highway, about 35 miles north of the Toolik Lake Research Camp.

The plan was for Colledge to stay with the caribou, Alzaharna said.

Lake was crossing the river, possibly to take some hunting gear to the other side. When Colledge got into the water, he realized the current was stronger than the two men had thought, Alzaharna said. He let go of the caribou and yelled back to his friend.

"He said, 'Don't get in. The current's too strong,' " the lieutenant said. But Lake, perhaps because he didn't hear his friend, got in the water anyway and began to cross, Alzaharna said.

Colledge followed the floating caribou while trying to monitor his friend's crossing. He lost track of both, Alzaharna said.

The hunter spent the next hour or two searching the river for Lake before going to the highway, where he flagged down a trucker to call police, Alzaharna said.

An Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. air boat found Lake's body about two hours later on a sand bar about two miles downriver from where he was last seen, Alzaharna said.

-- The Associated Press