One Kuskokwim Traveler’s Body Recovered, Search for Others Continues

Search and rescue crews used chainsaws to cut the ice open during their search. (Photo courtesy of BSAR)
Search and rescue crews used chainsaws to cut the ice open during their search. (Photo courtesy of BSAR)

UPDATED STORY: The body of an Akiak man has been recovered from the frozen Kuskokwim River near Kwethluk.

Bethel Search and Rescue searchers Sunday found the body of Ralph ‘Jimmy’ Demantle, one of three people who disappeared while traveling by four-wheeler from Bethel to Akiak. Searchers continue to search for another man and a woman.

The missing travellers were reported to troopers at around 5:00 p.m. Friday. They were last seen in the Kwethluk area Thursday night. Bethel Search and Rescue says the three were traveling at night in snowy weather.

On Saturday BSAR and State Trooper Air Assets began a search. BSAR says in an online post that from the air Saturday, searchers saw an open hole above Kwethluk with a single set of ATV tracks leading into it.

Earl Samuelson is a pilot with the Alaska State Troopers.

“There was a lone trail, four-wheeler, went off by itself. They appear to be … to have gone into that water hole. From there we contacted Bethel Search and Rescue, Kwethluk Search and Rescue to do a survey of that. A couple hours later they had pulled a four-wheeler from that water hole,” said Samuelson.

Mike Riley with BSAR confirmed that crews will continue searching for the bodies of the other two travelers today (11/15). The families of the missing have been notified of the situation. The names of the other two travelers have not yet been released as of Monday morning at 9 a.m.

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Daysha Eaton, KMXT - Kodiak
Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.