Search Continues for Tennessee Hunter Missing in Alaska

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

The hunter's two sons have joined the search party

Two sons of a Tennessee hunter who’s been missing in Alaska for more than a week have joined in the search effort to locate him.

Steve Keel, 61, disappeared on August 27 while hunting outside of Deadhorse.

His wife of 38 years, Liz Keel, told Alaska’s News Source, “I mean he loves to hunt. If he could hunt and fish year around, and do nothing else, that would have been the, you know, like paradise for him.”

Liz said Steve has hunted all over the U.S. and was excited about his first trip to Alaska to hunt caribou. But his hunting companion reported him missing on August 27 after he went to grab some food and didn’t return to the campsite. Liz found out that her husband was missing the next day.

“My heart dropped down into my toes and I just thought, oh my gosh, this cannot be possible,” Liz said.

Steve had already been missing for 30 hours before a search and rescue team was deployed.

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North Slope Borough Search and Rescue says multiple rotor-wing and fixed-wing air assets have conducted multiple days of aerial search operations. The Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and a volunteer helicopter have continued an aerial search.

Civil Air Patrol, Alaska State Troopers, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, and District 17 Command Center United States Coast Guard have also been asked to assist in the search.

Steve’s two oldest sons flew out to Alaska on Thursday, September 1, to conduct a ground search.

“I feel so good that they have eyes up there, that they can see what the terrain is like and where he could possibly be and how things played out,” Liz said. “But of course, on the other hand, to have two sons up there in the exact place where their father disappeared.”

She said she believes her sons will remain in Alaska until they can find answers.

Liz told News Channel 5 she is trying to gather a larger search party with dogs, but the terrain is quite treacherous, with sinkholes and quicksand in the area.

"I feel like God can do miracles, and that’s my hope. We need a miracle," she said.

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