Boat Found In Lower Kuskokwim SAR

Several communities on the Lower Kuskokwim River are involved in a search for two men: Nick Cooke of Bethel and Jim Lee Napoka of Tuluksak.

The two were traveling together by boat to a funeral in Tuntutuliak Oct. 23 but they never showed up. They were reported missing Friday.

Alaska State Trooper Michael Wilson says they were searching over 100 miles of the river by airplane and boat from Tuluksak all the way down to the Bering Sea Coast.

“We didn’t have any real leads,” Wilson says.

That changed Sunday afternoon. Close to 3 p.m. they found Napoka’s boat about 10 miles North of Tuntutuliak in the mouth of the Kialik River. The boat was submerged but it was the lead searchers needed.

“With the finding of that boat, we’ve been able to now direct all of our resources to that area,” Wilson says.

Searchers also spotted footprints on the nearby river bank. Now, boaters are concentrating on the shoreline with the hopes that the men are alive and well. Wilson says several villages are involved. They started efforts this morning at 8.

“Anywhere between six and 10 boats between Napaskiak, Napakiak, Kwethluk, and Tuntutuliak and they’re going to be headed down to the mouth of the river and starting a shore search,” Wilson says.

Troopers have used two airplanes for daily aerial searches since Friday.

They are asking anyone who has seen the two missing men to contact their Bethel post at 543-2294.

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Angela Denning is a reporter at KFSK in Petersburg.

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