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Ground Search for Missing Backpacker Scaled Back

Denali National Park and Preserve

National Park News

The park has scaled back the ground search for missing backpacker Richard Hasbell. The wide-spread ground search in the Kantishna Hills area was suspended at the end of Sunday, but limited searching will continue by using specialized resources targeted at investigating specific clues. The investigation will go on at the same level as has taken place throughout the incident, following up on leads and clues gleaned from the field search and from interviews with family and friends. The decision to change the focus of the search was reached after reviewing how thoroughly the areas closest to the abandoned campsite and the reasonable access routes in and out of the area had been searched. Sunday’s efforts focused on searching any portion of the area not already thoroughly covered. Additionally, four kayakers floated down Moose Creek, checking along the shoreline and in deep pools. Clues they reported included a disposable camera, a sock and footprints on the shore. These and other clues are being investigated, but nothing that can be specifically linked to Hasbell has been located. A search assignment that will continue in the future is the investigation of all habitable structures with food resources located in the major creek or river drainages leading away from the area. These drainages, each containing a number of cabins, will be checked all the way to the park boundary, a distance of 20 to 30 miles from the campsite. The ground search for the 34-year old Anchorage resident was begun on August 8th after it was determined that an abandoned tent reported to the park three days previously belonged to the same person who had not turned in the bear-resistant food canister issued to backcountry users. Hasbell had taken a camper bus into the park on July 10th and was due out on July 18th. He was not reported missing until NPS investigators checked with relatives for permission to search his Anchorage apartment. The park has expressed its deep appreciation for the support and assistance provided by the myriad agencies, organizations, and businesses who contributed a variety of services and supplies to the search effort.


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