Unalakleet community, troopers search for missing woman

Unalakleet in the fall of 2014. (Photo: Caitlin Whyte, KNOM file)
Unalakleet in the fall of 2014. (Photo: Caitlin Whyte, KNOM file)

Search and rescue efforts in Unalakleet are entering their sixth day, as the community continues looking for 74-year-old Vivian Foote.

Foote was reported missing Wednesday, Nov. 18, according to Alaska State Troopers, who arrived in Unalakleet on Friday to investigate and assist with the search. The Unalakleet Search and Rescue Team has led search efforts, organizing more than 120 volunteers to canvass the city on foot, by snow machine, and by boat.

Middy Johnson is a coordinator with the rescue team, and he said more help arrived on Saturday.

“We had four search dogs come into Unalakleet — three from Fairbanks and one from Anchorage,” said Johnson. “They’re cadaver dogs. They did half of the town on a grid. [Sunday], we’re continuing with the dogs on the other half of town, and we’ll expand it to the surrounding flats and beaches.”

As of Monday morning, Johnson said searchers have found no sign of Foote.

Rescue efforts escalated from door-to-door searches on the day Foote went missing to shoulder-to-shoulder sweeps across city limits the day after. And with high winds and blowing snow initially delaying the arrival of search dogs, Unalakleet community members also raised over $7,500 to charter a planeand bring them to town sooner.

The search dogs combed the village over two days, before flying out of Unalakleet on Sunday with their handlers to avoid the incoming winter storm.

Despite weather difficulties, Johnson said rescue volunteers are receiving support from the Unalakleet community and beyond.

“We’re doing OK. We have our headquarters at the church basement, so people bring a lot of food and people come by to give support,” said Johnson. “It does get tiring a little bit, but right now we’re hanging in there.

“And we’ve had plenty of calls from other communities that are on standby — just waiting for us if we want to expand it more and need more personnel. So we appreciate that, and we’ll just keep going until we’ve exhausted all our efforts or until we find her.”

Vivian Foote was last seen walking near her home in Unalakleet early Wednesday afternoon. She may suffer from medical issues, according to a trooper dispatch.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Vivian Foote should contact the Alaska State Troopers and the Unalakleet Search and Rescue Team.