George Smith Sr. 04-30-09

Togiak: Searchers look for 79-year-old man swept under river ice

Posted by the village Posted: May 1, 2009

A 79-year-old hunter from Togiak disappeared into the Ungalikthluk River at about 5:10 p.m. yesterday, according to Alaska State Troopers.

George Smith Sr. had been hunting near the river when he broke through the ice and was swept under, his hunting partner, Nathaniel Green, told troopers.

Troopers report: Green unsuccessfully attempted to rescue Smith, but stated that Smith was swept under the ice and disappeared. Green returned to Togiak and reported the incident to Togiak PD. At the request of troopers, in an effort to conduct a hasty search from the air, a pilot with an air taxi service operating in the area diverted to conduct a search of the area, but he reported no sign of Smith, and difficult search conditions due to high and gusty winds. No additional aircraft were available which would reach the search area prior to darkness. A ground search team departed Togiak for the search area, however they were forced to turn back due to reported treacherous conditions. On 05/01/09, approximately 0900 hrs., an Alaska Wildlife Trooper (AWT) in a helicopter launched from King Salmon to go to the search area and conduct additional air search activities. If conditions allow, a ground search team will respond to the area on 5/1/09 to assist the AWT helicopter.