Jacob Larson 07-12-09

Nikiski man feared drowned in Susitna River

By KYLE HOPKINS, khopkins@adn.com, Published: July 13th, 2009

A 22-year-old Nikiski man disappeared into the Susitna River at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday during what troopers are calling a night of mayhem at the annual Talkeetna Moose Dropping Festival.

Jacob Larson and two other men were jumping off railroad pilings -- where the Alaska Railroad crosses the Talkeetna River -- when Larson was swept away, said trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters.

The other men ran along the riverbank trying to keep Larson in sight, but he soon disappeared around a bend of the Susitna River. Search and rescue teams couldn't find him Sunday night and resumed looking today, focusing the search on a 12-mile stretch of the Susitna.

Meantime, Peters said, one trooper described the normally laid-back town as coming "unglued" Sunday.

The festival is an annual benefit for the Talkeetna Historical Society. This year's gathering was marked by sweltering heat and thick crowds.

"Troopers yesterday, while dealing with this (search) they were pulled away for several disturbances and fights and gang-type activity going on," Peters said.

Troopers interviewing people along the river, for example, found campers with bruises and fat lips who said a group of men had been harassing campsites in the area.

"They just went out looking for people to beat up is what it sounds like," Peters said.

Contact Kyle Hopkins at 257-4334.