Liza Lomando 2007-05-28
Travis Alexander
Kathy Garrigan

One boater dead, two missing after Harding Lake accident
NO LIFE VESTS: Woman's body found, along with photos of trio drinking in the canoe.

By JULIA O'MALLEY, Anchorage Daily News, Published: May 31, 2007

A digital camera showing AmeriCorps volunteers drinking from a whiskey bottle in their canoe was found Wednesday, a day after the body of one of the missing boaters was found submerged in Harding Lake, south of Fairbanks. Two others in the Memorial Day weekend camping party remained missing Wednesday and searchers said they would bring divers into the hunt today.

The body of Liza Lomando, 20, was found Tuesday night about an eighth of a mile from where an empty canoe turned up Sunday, troopers said.

Lomando, who is from New York but was working in Nenana, was last seen alive Sunday afternoon in a red canoe with Travis Alexander, 19, originally of Fort Yukon, and Kathy Garrigan, 24, of Oak Park, Ill.

The search for Alexander and Garrigan focused Wednesday on dragging in shallow waters near the lake's shoreline, including several areas identified by cadaver dogs, according to Beth Ipsen, Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman.

Searchers found the digital camera, which contained recent pictures of the three in the canoe in the middle of the lake. In the photos they were drinking from a bottle of Yukon Jack, Ipsen said. The empty Yukon Jack bottle and a pair of flip-flops were also found.

The trio did not have life vests with them, Ipsen said. The recovered canoe was undamaged.

"So far the only people who can fill in any details are the two who are missing," Ipsen said. The three worked in Nenana with Tribal Civilian Community Corps. TCCC is a community service program through AmeriCorps, designed for young Native American adults, according to its Web site.

They drove to Harding Lake at the start of the holiday weekend and were due back in Nenana Monday. A lake resident found the canoe Sunday night. Co-workers notified troopers Tuesday that the three were overdue. The canoe belonged to TCCC, Ipsen said.

The 2,500-acre lake is on the Richardson Highway 45 miles south of Fairbanks. About 75 percent of the lake is ringed with cabins or homes, and it is a popular fishing and water-skiing destination. The state maintains a large campground and boat launching area.

Lomando, Alexander and Garrigan were last seen between 3 and 4 p.m. Sunday in the red canoe near a boat ramp on the north side of the lake. Searchers found Lomando's body about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"Large amounts of alcohol" were found at the campsite, Ipsen told the Fairbanks News-Miner. Their tents did not appear to have been disturbed and a truck they used was still there, Ipsen said. There were no signs of foul play, she said.

Residents said bad weather over the weekend kept the lake from being crowded with boat traffic on Memorial Day. The ice had not completely melted.

The dead and missing Nenana-based AmeriCorps workers were featured in several newspapers in recent months for their public service work. In April, the West Linn Tidings, a paper based outside Portland Ore., featured them for pulling out invasive plants.

"It's a good chance for you to see how you want to spend the rest of your life while serving your country," Garrigan told the paper.

In February, the group was the subject of a story in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner just before they headed to Florida to help residents hit by a tornado.

"We can make a really big impact," Lomando said in the story.

A page on the networking site appears to be Alexander's. On it, he says that he likes doing cultural things, hanging out with his family and children.

"I absolutely love my daughter tanisha jade (lookslikehermombutactslikeme) and my real mini-me Ayden Alexander cause they're my whole world," he wrote in his profile.

Under the heading of "Scared of," he wrote, "losing a loved one and friends."

Attempts to reach the families of Lomando, Gerrigan and Alexander were not successful.

Daily News reporter Julia O'Malley can be reached at or 257-4591. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Searchers recover second body at Harding Lake

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Published: July 2, 2007

FAIRBANKS -- Searchers have recovered the body of a Fort Yukon teenager missing at an Interior lake since Memorial Day weekend.

The body of Travis Alexander, 19, of Fort Yukon was found Saturday. Still missing is Kathy Garrigan, 24, of Oak Park, Ill.

Alexander, Garrigan and Liza Lomando, 20, were last seen alive May 27, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, in a canoe on Harding Lake about 45 miles south of Fairbanks.

The body of Lomando was pulled from the lake that night. The canoe was recovered on shore. The three worked in Nenana for Tribal Civilian Community Corps, which is affiliated with AmeriCorps and the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

Since the official search was called off, the nonprofit Tanana Chiefs Conference has sponsored efforts to recover the bodies of Alexander and Garrigan. As many as 13 boats, two with sonar equipment, were expected to scour the lake over the next few days, said Ginger Placeres, TCC spokeswoman.

About 75 percent of the shoreline of the 2,500-acre lake is lined with cabins or homes and its waters are popular with skiers and fishermen. Searchers over the weekend made a plea for boaters to give the search area a wide berth.

"People are still jet-skiing out there and sail boating and playing out on the water," said Tanana Chiefs spokeswoman Ginger Placeres. "I'm sure there is going to be more of that because of the Fourth of July."

Searchers find body of last missing Harding Lake boater

The Associated Press, Published: July 4, 2007

FAIRBANKS - The body of an Illinois woman missing more than a month and presumed drowned was recovered Tuesday at Harding Lake, an official with the organization leading the volunteer search effort said.

A body was recovered by divers about noon Tuesday, and both volunteers and family members have identified the body as that of Kathy Garrigan, said Ginger Placeres, a spokeswoman for the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

Alaska State Troopers confirmed the identity, and spokeswoman Megan Peters said no foul play was suspected in Garrigan’s death.

Garrigan, 24, of Oak Park, Ill.; Travis Alexander, 19, of Fort Yukon; and Liza Lomando, 20, of East Meadow, N.Y., were last seen alive May 27 in a canoe on Harding Lake. Lomando’s body was found shortly after they were reported missing. Alexander’s body was found Saturday.

The three worked in Nenana for Tribal Civilian Community Corps, which is affiliated with AmeriCorps and the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

Once the official search was called off, the nonprofit Tanana Chiefs Conference sponsored volunteer efforts on the 2,500-acre lake to recover the bodies of Alexander and Garrigan.