Chefornak man rescued by SAR teams

by Mark Arehart on February 5, 2013

Trooper Pilot Earl Samuelson was one of the first to spot Abraham. Photo courtesy of BSAR

An ordinary hunting trip turned into a search and rescue mission for 42-year-old Jobe Abraham of Chefornak. Abraham went hunting for rabbits near Baird Inlet when his snowmachine ran out of gas on the return trip Friday morning.

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Crews from Chefornak, Kipnuk and Newtok were dispatched when Abraham did not report back Friday morning, but could not locate him due to poor visibility.

Armed with a GPS, cell phone and VHF radio, Abraham says he began to walk toward home.

He said since he could not get a cell signal or connect with anyone over VHF he walked and walked as Friday turned into Saturday.

“I was just hoping I would make it,” Abraham said.

Without a shelter, Abraham said he tried to sleep in clearings and then continue to trek toward Chefornak.

Search teams from Chefornak, Nightmute, Toksook Bay, and Kipnuk were dispatched on Saturday, along with Alaska State Trooper Pilots and the Civil Air Patrol.

Trooper Pilot Earl Samuelson and his spotters were the first to see Abraham, about 11 miles north of Cheforank, on Saturday morning.

“They (his spotters) spotted him straight ahead and we circled over him for another hour and a half until we could coordinate a ground team to come in and pick him up,” Samuelson said.

Abraham said at that point he was exhausted, lying down in the snow. “My clothes were getting wet and so I couldn’t walk any further anymore.”

Samuelson dropped supplies to Abraham, after he requested food and water over VHF. The package included “chips, corn dogs, chewy granola bars and a bottle of water.”

Abraham said it was hard to eat at first since he was so dehydrated, but the bottle of water helped him get down a little food.

He was picked up by a SAR team and taken back to Chefornak, where he is recovered safe and sound.

Abraham said he’s just glad he got home in time to watch the Super Bowl.

He was cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, by the way, who won in a thriller 34-31 over San Francisco.

Alaska State Troopers and the Bethel Search and Rescue urge everyone going out in the elements to be prepared with adequate supplies including a shelter and VHF radio or GPS and cell phone.

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