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Troopers, Volunteers Search for Missing Hiker near Akhiok

Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:27:39 AM AKST   Updated On: Oct 28 2013 11:56:11 AM AKDT

Local and state officials are continuing a search Monday for a missing Akhiok man last seen Saturday, with better weather but without support from U.S. Coast Guard helicopters.

Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers, along with the AWT patrol vessel Woldstad, are looking for 20-year-old Brandon T. Phillips. They are being backed by local search teams and a nine-member search crew with Kodiak Island Search and Rescue, whose flight was grounded Sunday but arrived Monday morning.

“The weather has improved remarkably,” troopers wrote in a Monday dispatch on the status of the search. “The USCG suspended their search on (Sunday) based upon the 8 hour survivability rate (in water), as it is suspected the victim may have drowned while operating a kayak in an area known as Moser Bay, while under the influence of alcohol.”

According to a Sunday AST dispatch, Akhiok village public safety officer Speridon Simeonoff informed Kodiak troopers shortly after 10:30 p.m. Saturday that Phillips had last been seen at about 6:20 a.m.

“Phillips was reportedly going to hike the local area and left the village on an ATV,” troopers wrote. “VPSO Simeonoff formed two hasty search parties to patrol the area in which they located an abandoned ATV and a kayak which may have been used by Phillips.”

AST spokesperson Megan Peters says searchers located gear Phillips had been using, in addition to the vehicles. She didn’t have further information Monday morning on how well Phillips may have been prepared for conditions in the area.

“We also found a backpack that was his, and another backpack that we’re pretty positive that he was using,” Peters said.

In a Sunday statement, Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant DeVuyst says an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched from Air Station Kodiak, about 150 miles northeast of Akhiok, at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday after troopers asked for help with the search. The Coast Guard reported that weather at the scene included winds from 15 to 40 mph, with temperatures at about 45 degrees.