Body of hunter found in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

The body of a missing hunter has been found in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, where authorities believe he may have been swept away by a current while trying to cross a creek.

The park, in a statement Sunday, identified the hunter as David White, 40, of North Pole. His body was discovered by search team members on Saturday alongside Jacksina Creek.

White’s body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Anchorage, according to the statement.

Hunting is allowed in the preserve area.

Carrie Wittmer, a park spokesperson, said White’s last message to his point of contact was on Aug. 12. That individual notified park rangers on Aug. 16 that White had stopped checking in. He had been due out on Aug. 19, she said Monday.

White’s last message, via a satellite communications system, indicated he had been about to cross Jacksina Creek to access a hunting area across the valley, according to the park statement.

After rangers were contacted, search teams and Alaska Wildlife Troopers conducted flights in the area, according to the statement. Wittmer said response plans also were made in the event White did not emerge from the preserve when he was expected.

When White was deemed officially overdue, searches were conducted by air, on the ground and by packraft, the park statement said.

Wittmer said conditions on creeks and rivers in the park change frequently. She said Jacksina Creek had been high during this time because of rainfall.

The park cautioned hunters and visitors “to be prepared for difficult river and creek crossings that can be extremely dangerous, even for experienced backcountry users.”

Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest national park in the country.

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