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By Dan Rudy 

Wrangell man remains missing as search concludes


Alaska State Troopers and the local fire department have suspended their search for a Wrangell man missing since Dec. 17.

A welfare check was requested of Wrangell Volunteer Fire Department for Brandon Peterson, age 38, the second within the week. Peterson had last been seen in the early hours of Dec. 13 in the vicinity of Thoms Place, where he has a cabin. Peterson had been given a ride to the end of the road the previous day. Fire service volunteers were contacted to check on him that evening and found Peterson on foot at the roadside.

In its press release, AST reported Peterson had been intoxicated at the time. WVFD Chief Tim Buness explained Peterson had declined offers for a ride, and the volunteers left. His cabin is about three-quarters of a mile from the service road’s end, connected by a trail through muskeg patches and brush.

When responders were called to check on Peterson Dec. 17, he was not found at the cabin.

“Nobody had really seen him since Saturday night, Sunday morning,” Buness said. The subsequent search effort involved 23 volunteers and a Trooper, as well as a trained rescue dog.

A preliminary land search did not turn up any leads. A more thorough grid search on Dec. 18 was also conducted without success. Searches for the next six days involving all-terrain vehicles and boats were likewise unsuccessful.

“It was a long search,” said Buness. He estimated a little over 1,000 man hours were put into the effort, which was hampered by snow and cold. “Weather conditions aren’t good down there right now.”

Subsequently, the active search effort has been suspended pending new leads. Peterson’s next of kin has been apprised of the situation. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to contact either the local police department or the Trooper post.


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