Man missing, 10 days after leaving cabin

Posted: Friday, December 31, 2010

NOME - Searchers set out for a second day Thursday in hopes of finding a man who disappeared this month on a 50-mile walk to Nome from his family's cabin.

Teams on snowmachines and in a military C-130 cargo plane were searching a 600-square mile area Thursday for 55-year-old John Koezuna, said Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen. They found no trace of him Wednesday after searching in the air and checking cabins where he might have taken refuge.

Relatives arrived Monday at the family cabin near Woolley Lagoon, on the edge of the Bering Sea, to find a note from Koezuna. It was dated Dec. 20 and said he was walking into town via a winter trail along the coast - a trek of around 50 miles.

Koezuna was known to make long hikes and would have been prepared for the elements, but two bad storms hit the Seward Peninsula in the week between when he left and when family members found the note. Ipsen says rescuers are concerned that Koezuna may have become disoriented and stepped onto some unreliable sea ice.

"The ice in that area is horrible - there's a lot of open water," Ipsen said. "We hope he's holed up somewhere."

The rescuers set out from Nome on snow machines in teams of six, trying to take advantage of what little daylight there was. They and the planes were checking the coastal area in a grid pattern and would then move farther inland.

Woolley Lagoon is just south of the Arctic Circle, and temperatures have dropped well below zero. They were in the minus-20s Wednesday night.

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