A hiker who was reported overdue from a day trip was found dead Saturday in the Sukakpak Mountain area in northern Alaska, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Douglas Mathews, originally from Ohio, was part of a group that set off on a day hike on the mountain, which is just east of Gates of the Arctic National Park. Mathews was reported to troopers as overdue from that hike at 9:15 p.m. Friday. According to a trooper dispatch, Mathews was “separated from the group” and was last seen at approximately 6:30 p.m. that day.
On Saturday, troopers launched an aircraft to search for the missing hiker but were unable to locate him. Troopers then contacted the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which sent two Army helicopters to assist. The federal Bureau of Land Management had a ranger deployed in the area who helped in the search on foot.
At roughly 4:45 p.m. Saturday, troopers were informed that the BLM ranger had found Mathews' body. “It appears Mathews fell in a steep area,” the trooper dispatch states.
On Sunday, troopers, Alaska Wilderness Search and Rescue, and BLM rangers recovered Mathews’ body from the mountainside. His next of kin have been notified.
In a public Facebook post, University of Alaska Fairbanks student Elizabeth McGlothen wrote that she was among the group that Mathews was hiking with that day.
“Doug was a knowledgeable sheep hunter and knew how to get around a mountain,” she wrote. “I feel like I didn't know Doug well or for long, but I can tell you from experience that we lost a good soul that day. He was the kind of friend who would drop everything and offer you the shirt off his back if it helped. His kindness and good heartedness will live forever in my heart and memories.”
Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.