Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
The village of Newtok suffered a great loss over the weekend.
A father and two of his sons are reported dead after their snowmachine fell through the ice near Newtok on Saturday.
Alaska State troopers are reporting the deceased as George Earviak Sr., 67, and his sons George Earviak Jr., 11, and Teddy Earviak, 9.
It was originally reported that they were going to set blackfish traps, but Bethel Search and Rescue says that the blackfish traps were left at home. They think it’s more likely that they were checking the trail. But they didn’t get far.
The pond they fell through was near the village’s airport and within sight of some of the homes. There was new snow on the ground that covered their tracks, but the machine was found pointing away from the village, indicating that the trio was still leaving the village.
Bethel Search and Rescue says the pond is man-made, and approximately 14 feet deep. They say ice was thin where the snow machine broke through.
Newtok is located near the Bering Sea, about 100 miles West of Bethel.
The three left the village on Saturday morning. After they failed to return a search and rescue mission was initialized that day. That included local volunteers, along with air support from the Troopers and Civil Air Patrol.
Ground searchers located their submerged snow machine, the next day, on Sunday afternoon at about 12:30. Volunteers’ teams from Kwethluk, Napaskiak and Bethel assisted. They were able to drag the pond and retrieve all three bodies. Drowning is the likely cause of death but an autopsy will be performed by the State Medical examiner’s office.
Alcohol does not appear to be a factor.
Download Audio (MP3)