Stampede Trail 'magic bus'

A group of hikers take a break at Bus 142 along the Stampede Trail on June 21, 2009. 

A Brazilian man was rescued Tuesday by Alaska State Troopers after he ran into trouble returning from a visit to the abandoned bus where hiker Christopher McCandless starved to death in 1992.

Also known as Bus 142 or the Magic Bus, the site was made famous by writer John Krakauer's 1996 book "Into the Wild" and a 2007 movie of the same name. Located about 30 miles into the wilderness by the Stampede Trail near Healy, the bus has become a magnet for adventurers and tourists who see McCandless as a tragic hero. It is considered by many to be a safety hazard because visitors routinely encounter trouble while trying to cross the Teklanika River to reach the bus.

According to a news release posted on the trooper website, Gabriel Dias Da Silva, 26, of Brazil, activated the SOS function on his Garmin inReach satellite communication device Tuesday on his way back from visiting the bus. The International Emergency Rescue Coordination Center notified Fairbanks troopers at 2:32 p.m. and a trooper helicopter was diverted from another mission to respond.

Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said Dias Da Silva was located on the bus side of the river. He had apparently crossed the Teklanika while it was still frozen over, but when he returned the ice had gone out and the river was “open and raging.”

Dias Da Silva spoke only Portuguese and troopers had to locate a translator to communicate with him. He had run out of food but was uninjured and did not need further assistance. Troopers transported him to Healy and released him after informing him about “the proper utilization of the SOS activation,” according to the news release.

Dias Da Silva did not know his rescue would be performed by troopers, according to Peters.

“It seems he was under the impression that Garmin was going to rescue him when he activated the beacon.”

Peters said members of the public need to educate themselves about possible dangers when traveling in the state.

“No matter where people go in Alaska, they should be knowledgeable of their destination and be well prepared for changing conditions and seasons,” Peters said.

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.

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