Missing Noorvik-bound snowmachiner found dead

a landscape photo, sea ice
Sea ice on the Kotzebue Sound in 2019. (Wesley Early/KOTZ)

The search for the second snowmachiner who set out from Kotzebue on a trip to Noorvik more than a week ago is over.  

Alaska State Troopers say Thomas Brown did not survive. Searchers found Brown’s body on Wednesday about 10.5 miles south of Kotzebue, near Cape Blossom. 

Brown and his friend Josiah Ballot, both 18 years old, had messaged friends that they were traveling to Noorvik on Monday, Jan. 16.

Ballot was found last Friday about 28 miles south of Kotzebue, hunkered down next to a ridge of sea ice, which offered some protection from the wind. But Ballot did not escape severe frostbite and was medivaced to Anchorage for treatment.  

Over the last nine days, searchers have endured extreme cold, some returning to Kotzebue with frostbite on their faces.    

A North Slope Borough helicopter assisted in Wednesday’s search. 

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