|Monday, Aug 15, 2005|
The ground search for backpacker Richard Hasbell, 34, who hasn't been seen since disembarking a camper bus near Wonder Lake on July 10th, continued into its sixth day on Saturday. The assignments given to the 25 searchers included checking portions of the highest priority sections that hadn't been cleared, investigating clues detected in a previous search and beginning work on a new section to the east. A new objective added on Saturday was to search Moose Creek more closely. Four people were to kayak approximately six miles from the creek's junction with Glen Creek to the bridge at the park road, checking along the banks and in the deep pools. New clues and pieces of information were called into the command center during the course of the day from the ground searchers. They were logged in, noted on a map and thoroughly investigated. Nothing found to date can be definitively linked to Richard Hasbell. Very smoky conditions present early on Saturday morning grounded the fixed-wing aircraft that are being used to move people and supplies between the park headquarters and the temporary camp that has been established at Friday Creek to support the field crews. The two helicopters were able to safely navigate in the hazy conditions, but some crews were delayed in getting to their search assignments by the lack of fixed-wing aircraft. The safety of the field crews and other search personnel is the highest priority in this and any incident. Crews are briefed each morning on specific safety concerns and things to be aware of, which include the use of proper protective equipment (PPE), especially around aircraft; dehydration due to the hot weather conditions; and old, abandoned explosives at old mining sites and mine shafts. Despite the difficult terrain, there have been no searcher injuries to date. There are over 50 people assigned to the search. Many agencies, organizations, and businesses are contributing to the search effort, including the private lodges in Kantishna (Camp Denali, Denali Backcountry Lodge, and the Kantishna Roadhouse), Alaska Fire Service, Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, Alaska State Troopers, Denali Outdoor Center, park concessioner Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture , Evergreen Helicopters, Food Services of America and numerous other businesses in the communities outside the park.