by Phillip Manning ~ November 13th, 2013
The Alaska Air National Guard has released additional details of the search and rescue operation near Willow early Monday morning. Three adults and one child were airlifted by Air National Guard Personnel after they broke through the ice near Caswell Lake on an ATV trip.
The party initially contacted the Alaska State Troopers. Two Troopers reached the group by snowmachine, but were unable to transport them to safety. According to the Air National Guard, the Troopers contacted the Rescue Coordination Center just after 1:00 am on Monday. A Pave Hawk helicopter was launched with a team of Guardian Angels on board to assist in the rescue. The helicopter flew through the night, and the crew used night vision to locate the stranded party. Because of rough terrain, the helicopter could not land, and a hoist was used to rescue the group. They were given blankets and warm fluids to fend off hypothermia, and transported to Providence Alaska Medical Center.
Major Keenan Zerkel, a senior controller at the RCC, says, “The crew members did a superb job.” He praised their quick reaction and successful rescue in the dark, snowy conditions.