Crews search lake near Ketchikan for missing woman

a lake
The shore of Ward Lake looking towards the day use area. (Jack Darrell/KRBD)

A search is underway for a missing Ketchikan woman. 48-year-old Christiana Watt was reported missing around 8 p.m. Monday night near Ward Lake, a very popular recreation area north of town. According to Alaska State Troopers, Watt’s car – a silver Range Rover Evoque – was located in the parking lot of the Ward Lake recreation area with her phone and wallet inside. 

Troopers have partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad in searching the area.

“Last night, we sent our hasty teams out and ground teams out and searched pretty much all of the surrounding trails,” said North Tongass fire chief Jerry Kiffer, who works with the volunteer rescue squad. “We were operating until about two, three o’clock in the morning.”

Kiffer said they covered most of the hiking trails in the hours after Watt was reported missing. On Tuesday, the troopers brought in a canine search and rescue team from Juneau called SEADOGS to help canvas the heavily timbered area. 

Kiffer said no one had seen Watt the day her car was found at Ward Lake or the the previous day. But hours before troopers declared her missing, there was a ping from her Apple Watch. 

“Which we now know was (Bluetooth-connected) to the cell phone, and that Apple Watch confirmed that she was there – or the Apple Watch was there – at about 12:30 in the afternoon,” Kiffer said.

The U.S. Forest Service has advised people to avoid the Ward Lake area while the search is underway. Kiffer said they are concentrating their search on the shorelines of the lake and its tributaries by foot, by boat, and by helicopter. They are also searching Ward Cove – where water flows from the lake into the Tongass Narrows.  

The search teams have found several clues, Kiffer said, but none that can be directly linked to Watt yet. It’s unknown what she was wearing when she disappeared. 

Kiffer added that the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad and State Troopers are interested in talking to anybody that was out in the Ward Lake area between the morning and afternoon on Monday and may have seen a white female, with long, brown hair, or anyone swimming in the lake, primarily on the north end near the day use area.

At this time, troopers aren’t considering Watt’s disappearance suspicious. 

Troopers ask that anyone who has contact with or information about Watt is asked to contact troopers’ Ketchikan post at 907-225-5118.

a woman
A missing persons bulletin for Christiana Watt. (From Alaska State Troopers)
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