By Melinda Munson
A vulnerable adult went missing from downtown Skagway, initiating a successful overnight search and rescue operation.
“I feel very, very lucky. A lot of effort went into it,” said Borough Manager Brad Ryan.
Around 7 p.m. on Aug. 10, Skagway Police Department received a call regarding a 26-year-old female who wandered away from caregivers on Broadway. The department searched the town for the woman, known to sometimes disappear and return on her own. By nightfall when the woman had not reappeared, the case became priority, said Police Chief Jerry Reddick.
Fire Chief Emily Rauscher was notified at approximately 10 p.m. and a search and rescue team was assembled. Team members hiked Lower Lake, Yakutania Point and Smuggler’s Cove with flashlights, calling the woman’s name.
Acting on a community tip, a group then searched the incinerator, located at Mile 6 on the Klondike Highway.
“We weren’t able to find anything,” Rauscher said.
Based on another community tip, a team continued up the mountain to U.S Customs. Customs was closed but arrived to open the gate for the emergency vehicle. The woman was discovered at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 11 near the Captain William Moore Bridge, approximately 10 miles from her starting point.
According to Rauscher, the fog was extremely thick, but the glint from the victim’s glasses allowed Officer James Michels and Firefighter/EMT Ryan Odsather to spot her.
She was “curled up in a ball,” Reddick said. The woman was dressed in only shorts and a short sleeve shirt. The temperature was 51 degrees.
She was “not geared to be going into the Yukon on foot,” Reddick said.
The woman was transported to Dahl Memorial Clinic and reunited with her family, vehicle tourists from Canada.
“I love it every time the fire and police work together in such a positive collaboration,” Rauscher said. “That’s what every town should strive for.”