Troopers Suspend Search For Men Missing Near Bethel

Alaska State Troopers have ended their involvement in the search for Nick Cooke and Jim Lee Napoka. Trooper Sergeant Greg Lavin says there’s been a huge ground, water, and air effort over the past several days.

“We haven’t found anything definitive on their whereabouts and at this time the Alaska State Troopers are suspending their involvement in the search. However as is custom in this region, a number of volunteer communities and volunteers from surrounding communities usually continue with local interest and donations on behalf of the families.”

Troopers had found the submerged boat along with a gas tank and footprints heading in the direction of Tuntutuliak. Lavin says the leads were encouraging but did not result in any real sign of the men.

“The area the boat was found is a very heavily hunted moose area. And so naturally a lot of tracks are there and tracks are seen and that’s always a very positive thing for any searcher, I certainly understand that. But I have nothing to link those tracks to these missing people,” said Lavin.

Lavin say the community should know about the efforts by local searchers.

“They should recognize the number of volunteers in all the communities. Bethel Search and Rescue is a very active organization with a great group of resources and lot of experience that we draw upon. Each community has a dedicated group of search and rescue volunteers willing to go out on a moment’s notice to help complete strangers. The community and region need to know that,” said Lavin.

The information on Napoka and Cooke will be added to the state’s missing persons clearing house for any future developments.

Information on how to donate to Bethel Search and Rescue is available on their website.