Update, 12:45 p.m. The U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday afternoon that it had suspended the search for Teuber’s helicopter, and it offered its condolences to his loved ones.
In a prepared statement, the Coast Guard said the debris it spotted Tuesday were “consistent with” debris from Teuber’s helicopter, though it did not confirm that that was the case.
“After an extensive search with our available assets resulting in inconclusive findings, it’s with a heavy heart that we have to suspend this search pending any new information. I offer my deepest condolences to those affected by this incident,” the statement quoted Cmdr. Matthew Hobbie as saying.
Original story: U.S. Coast Guard officials said Wednesday morning they can’t confirm debris spotted Tuesday was from a missing helicopter piloted by former tribal health executive Andy Teuber. The debris was never recovered.
“Debris was seen by our crews, but we cannot confirm if it was debris from that helicopter at this time,” said spokeswoman Alexandria Preston.
The Coast Guard said Tuesday night it was searching for Teuber after a family member contacted them around 5 p.m. to say he was overdue to arrive on Kodiak Island after leaving Anchorage’s Merrill Field three hours earlier. His last known location was 66 miles northeast of Kodiak, the Coast Guard said.
Teuber resigned last week as chief executive of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. He was the subject of an Anchorage Daily News story earlier Tuesday describing how he stepped down the same day his former assistant accused him of sexual harassment and abuse in a letter to the consortium’s board.
Preston, in an interview Wednesday, said the Coast Guard has not independently confirmed Teuber was in the missing helicopter.
“That’s still information we’re looking at. Right now, all we have is the report from the family member that the person was overdue,” she said. “The rest, we don’t have confirmation on right now.”
The agency said late Tuesday it had found debris from Teuber’s helicopter. But Preston, on Wednesday morning, said that report was incorrect: While debris was spotted, search crews never got their hands on it.
The search for Teuber continued Wednesday morning with an MH-60 helicopter from Kodiak and a Coast Guard cutter, she said.