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Volunteers, Troopers Seek 2 Missing Boaters near Tuntutuliak

Published On: Oct 29 2013 09:40:17 AM AKDT   Updated On: Oct 29 2013 01:03:10 PM AKDT

Alaska State Troopers and searchers in the Bethel area are searching Tuesday for two boaters reported overdue to Tuntutuliak, after a boat similar to theirs was found Sunday.

AST spokesperson Megan Peters confirmed the resumption of efforts to find Jim Lee Napoka and Nick Cooke Tuesday.

"(Search and rescue) continues today with both air and water assets," Peters wrote in a email to Channel 2.

According to a Tuesday AST dispatch, Bethel troopers were informed Friday morning that Napoka and Cooke hadn’t yet arrived in Tuntutuliak, after a Tuesday trip on the Kuskokwim River from Tuluksak to Napaskiak.

“Napoka called family at approximately (12:30 p.m.) on Tuesday and reported they were OK and still planning to arrive in Tuntutuliak by Wednesday,” troopers wrote. “According to family, Napoka and Cooke never arrived in Tuntutuliak. Neither have answered their phones and have not been heard from since Tuesday.”

According to troopers, search efforts have been continuing for the last several days, with AST aircraft making a search of the river from Tuluksak to Tuntutuliak. The men haven’t been seen at fish camps in the area, as volunteers from villages from the region also join the search. Village public safety departments in the area have also been notified.

Troopers say the boat found Sunday, submerged near the mouth of the Kialik River, matches a description given of Napoka’s.