Lost Backpackers Are Reported Alive and Well at Denali National Park
Abby Flantz and Erica Nelson are alive and well. The two women, who were reported missing when they failed to report for work Saturday, had departed on Thursday for what was to have been an overnight backtracking trip in the park's Mount Healy Wilderness unit. An intensive search had failed to locate them.
It was believed that the women did not have a cell phone with them, but that turned out not to be the case. As park officials were briefing the two women’s families, the cell phone of Mrs. Nelson's mother rang. It was her missing daughter Erica on the phone. She reported that the two women were alive and well and believed that they were in the Dry Creek drainage, which is in the eastern portion of the search area.
Helicopters were dispatched to pick up the women, but they have not been recovered yet.
Kris Fister, Public Affairs Officer at Denali National Park & Preserve, issued the following statement at 12:15 p.m. local:
The young women were asked to move to a highly visible
area, remain in that location, make themselves highly visible and signal
any helicopters that flew overhead.
Two helicopters were immediately dispatched to search the area where the
two women believed themselves to be, and to pick them up. At this time
they have not been located, and there has been no other cell phone contact
since the initial call.
The new area being searched is north of Mount Healy, approximately five
miles west of the Parks Highway. The area is a mix of national park and
An additional helicopter and a fixed wing are now searching this new area,
and ten ground searchers and two dog teams are being inserted at this time.
Search managers are making arrangements to move ground searchers from areas
of the previous search into this new area throughout the afternoon if