George Mute’s body found after nine months

A couple in Napakiak has found the body of George Mute, age 26, of Kongiganak. Mute went missing in September.

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George Mute, age 26. (Photo courtesy of Alaska State Troopers)
George Mute, age 26. (Photo courtesy of Alaska State Troopers)

Mike Riley, Bethel Search and Rescue President, said the couple was on the Kuskokwim River near Napakiak last Friday looking for wood when they saw something floating in the water.

“It looked like a bag, and then they went to check, and that’s what they saw—the remains,” Riley said.

Bethel Search and Rescue along with Alaska State Troopers retrieved the body and transported it to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage who identified the remains as George Mute.

“It was kinda hard to make identification with visuals, so that’s why he had to be shipped into Anchorage and do identification through dental records,” Riley said.

Alaska State Troopers report Mute went missing in September after a boat carrying him and two other men collided with a sandbar on the Kuksokwim River near Napaskiak, stranding the boat.

Bethel Search and Rescue found the two other men and began an over two-month search for Mute. At its peak the search involved over 50 searchers, 30 boats, and multiple aerial surveys. After a few weeks, the search changed to a recovery effort, looking for Mute’s body.

Riley said Bethel Search and Rescue suspended the search during freeze-up and resumed searching this spring.

Mute’s family held a memorial for Mute in Kongiganak in December.

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Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.