Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?

Hunter missing near Port Dick

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

By Michael Armstrong, HomerNews.com

High winds, heavy rain and poor communications have hampered a search for Robert Johnson, 38, an Anchorage hunter missing in the hills above Sunday Harbor near Port Dick. Severe weather stopped several searches earlier this week by Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Air National Guard units, but pararescuers from the Air National Guard at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday landed at a hunting base camp, contacted the missing man's friend, Grant Gaberino, also of Anchorage, and started a ground search.

"We've been sending in resources, it's been turned around," said Megan Peters, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Public Safety. "We send in another resource, it's been turned around."

Gaberino and Johnson set up camp on Saturday, Sept. 4. Johnson had gone to scout the area for mountain goats, and when he did not return, Gaberino reported him missing about 9:45 p.m. by satellite phone to troopers. The hunters were in the hills above Sunday Harbor on the Gore Point peninsula at the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula and about 35 miles southeast of Homer. Peaks in the area are 2,000 feet and higher, with generally steep terrain.

A trooper helicopter attempted to search the area early Sunday but had to turn back. A second helicopter went out on Monday and made it to the beach at Sunday Harbor, but couldn't make it to the mountains and the base camp.
An Air National Guard helicopter and C-130 also tried to search. U.S. Coast Guard crews also will assist in the search effort if needed.

The marine weather for Gore Point on Wednesday was southeast winds 30 knots with gusts to 40 knots, rain and 13-foot seas. The forecast for Thursday is southeast winds 25 knots, rain and 11-foot seas, lessening to 15 knots Thursday night.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at [email protected]

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