2 missing snowmachiners found dead near Nome

a trooper car
An Alaska State Troopers SUV (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

Update 2:45 p.m. Wednesday:

The bodies of two missing snowmachiners returning to Nome from Teller were found at about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to an Alaska State Trooper dispatch.

Troopers identified the victims as Nome residents Charlene Habros, 34, and Dustin Gologergen, 55. Their families have been notified.

According to the dispatch, the discovery was made when search-and-rescue teams reached the area where their snowmachine had previously been spotted by search aircraft.

Trooper spokesperson Austin McDaniel said the couple was found near their snowmachine. 

Searchers faced significant challenges as a blizzard warning brought high winds and white-out conditions to the Bering Straits region.

The Nome Search and Rescue team reached the crash site Tuesday after numerous attempts. McDaniel said Nome SAR, troopers and the Alaska Air National Guard were working to recover the bodies Wednesday.

Once recovered, the bodies will be sent to the state medical examiner’s office. Troopers said the deaths aren’t considered suspicious.

Original story:

Two snowmachiners are overdue on a return trip to Nome from Teller, a village just over 70 miles to the northwest.

Lt. Benjamin Endres, Alaska State Troopers’ search and rescue coordinator, said he received a call Monday morning from Teller SAR reporting that a man and a woman had not returned to Nome as expected. He said when he received the call, they were over 24 hours overdue.

Subzero temperatures in the region have raised concerns for SAR teams. According to Endres, Nome SAR responded to the call yesterday but had to cease the search at the 23-mile mark on the Nome-Teller Highway due to unfavorable weather conditions. He said Teller SAR was unable to begin searching, due to a lack of equipment. A commercial helicopter was chartered for assistance, but the search was held due to weather conditions.

Endres said the Alaska Air National Guard deployed a C-130 aircraft from JBER in Anchorage to conduct an aerial survey of the area. He said the aircraft identified a snowmachine but no individuals were spotted.

On Tuesday morning, Endres said Alaska Department of Transportation crews are en route to where the snowmachine was sighted. A trooper dispatch said that “extreme weather is preventing a safe method of travel for ground or aerial teams.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Habros and Gologergen’s snowmachine had crashed.

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