Packrafter Apparently Drowns On Tana River Inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

An Alaska man paddling down the Tana River in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska drowned after being thrown out of his packraft, according to park officials.

The National Park Service Alaska Regional Communications Center was contacted by the Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson at 7:05 a.m. on Sunday with a report of a missing rafter along the Tana River-- a large, glacial tributary of the Chitina River within Wrangell-St. Elias.

According to the reporting party, Rob Kehrer, a resident of the Mat-Su Borough, was thrown out of his packraft and last seen by his rafting partner at 1 p.m., Saturday, the release said.

Aerial and ground search efforts were carried out by Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve personnel in cooperation with the Alaska Air National Guard, pilots from Ultima Thule Lodge, and locally-hired ground searchers. This included three fixed-wing aircraft, two helicopters, and eight ground search members, as well a National Park Service incident command team.

At approximately 4 p.m. Sunday, the body of Mr. Kehrer was located by the Alaska Air National Guard helicopter crew, approximately 2.5 miles downstream from the location where he was last seen. The Tana River is extremely cold, swift and known for large water and difficult rapids. Mr. Kehrer’s body was transported to Providence Hospital in Anchorage.