Searches Called Off For Hyder, Wrangell Residents

Alaska State Troopers say they ended separate searches for two missing Southeast residents because they ran out of options.

Spokeswoman Megan Peters says there’s no more information on the whereabouts of Wrangell’s Colin Buness and Hyder’s Cathleen Currie.

“It gets to a point where you’re searching for an individual where there’s no evidence to show you that you’re searching in the right place or that you’re searching in the wrong place. It just gets to a standstill. And at some point, searches do have to end,” Peters says.

Wrangell’s Buness was reported overdue last Monday, June 25th. The 25-year-old had planned a hiking and kayaking trip on the Stikine River and one of its tributaries.

Searchers found his kayak in a logjam, as well as some of his gear. But Peters says no other evidence turned up.

“They were doing aerial searches, they were searching on the ground and they were also doing water searches. We were searching for every possibility. We were searching for the possibility that he made it out of the water and was attempting self-rescue to hike out. We were searching for the possibility that he never made it out of the river as well,” Peters says.

Buness, an Army National Guard sergeant, was an experienced hiker and kayaker. He last reported his whereabouts Friday using a location device.

The search for Currie, 60, began Monday, June 25th, after Hyder residents reported her missing.

“It’s a very large area and with not finding any signs of an individual to tell you to keep looking in one area versus another area, it’s not conducive to a search environment,” Peters says. “We need to find something to tell us we’re on the right trail.”

Both searches were called off Friday afternoon.

In addition to troopers, the Stikine-area effort included Wrangell Search and Rescue, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, Sitka Mountain Rescue and the SEADOGs search team. The Hyder effort included the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, search-and-rescue dogs, troopers and residents.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.