Troopers suspend search for missing hiker, but volunteers keep looking

Alaska State Troopers suspend official search for Teri Heuscher, 53, of Juneau

Authorities have suspended the search for a Juneau woman missing since about 1 p.m. Saturday, according to Alaska State Troopers.


But volunteers, including SEADOGS, are still actively looking for Teri Heuscher, 53, of Juneau, who was last seen on the trail beneath Thunder Mountain, known as “Under Thunder.”

The official search for Heuscher was called off at 6 p.m. Sunday after exhausting the search area based on the clues that were available and the amount of area that was searched, according to a press release from the state troopers.

But that doesn’t mean there is no longer an active search, said Bruce Bowler of the SEADOGS K-9 Search and Rescue Team.

The state is no longer devoting financial resources to the search, Bowler said, adding, “We’re still looking, actively and through social media, to try to contact anyone who might know her or might have seen her. That’s proven to be a good source of information.”

Heuscher’s family reported her missing to Juneau Police Department, who contacted troopers at about 4 p.m. Saturday. The family searched the area, but were unable to locate her.

“The point last seen was the beginning of the Under Thunder Trail … at the end of Jennifer Drive,” Bowler said.

Juneau Mountain Rescue, SEADOGS (SouthEast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search), Capital City Fire/Rescue, U.S. Forest Service, Temsco helicopters and JPD searched for Heuscher until nightfall Saturday and continued their search at 7:30 a.m. Sunday with the assistance of the American Red Cross and local volunteers.

“Essentially, we covered the main trails and the area around the trail,” said Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for Troopers. “People were on bikes and ATVs, people canvased the neighborhood, helicopters searched up in the Alpine area. All the points of the trail were covered.”

Peters estimated there were between 25-30 organized searchers and about the same number of volunteer searchers out. Saturday, Peters said the weather was decent, with a high ceiling for the helicopter that was searching.

“We had another 25-30 that weren’t prepared to be in the woods, but we had them looking through neighborhoods and asked that they report back if they found anything,” she said.

AST made the decision to suspend the search Sunday night, Peters said, “because we do not know where she is and we have not found any clues to tell us where she may have went.”

Bowler said the SEADOGS worked the area several times over around the point last seen.

“We’ve looked in what we consider the high-probability areas we’ve been able to identify,” he said Monday morning. “If we come up with other clues, like her jacket or a sighting of her out there on the trail, we would look there. Right now we just don’t have a lot of clues.”

The search base has been moved from the trailhead to the Alaska State Trooper post, Bowler added.

Heuscher is 5 feet, 4 inches, Caucasian with blonde/brown hair and is described as having an average build. She was last seen wearing a navy blue jacket and black pants.

Anyone who might have seen Heuscher since 1 p.m. Saturday is asked to call troopers at 465-4000.


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