SITKA, Alaska — The body of a man who went on a day hike on Mount Verstovia in Sitka has been found after a four-day search.
The search for 37-year-old Michael Hansen ended Friday after his body was discovered at the bottom of a steep mountainside slope, the Daily Sitka Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2cA3w3q) reported.
Hansen went missing Monday after last being seen at the top of the mountain. He had planned for a day hike, so when he did not return Tuesday search and rescue crews began looking for him.
“It’s an emotional roller-coaster,” said Police Lt. Lance Ewers at the end of the four-day search. “It’s such a sad deal with the family and with our community. It’s a loss. We had so many people involved in the search, and we were ultimately able to find a needle in a haystack.”
Ewers said it appears Hansen had hiked to the top of the peak, and instead of going back down the typical way tried to take a short cut. The case is under investigation.
“It’s so bushy, so you don’t see it’s going to get real steep real fast,” Ewers said. “You’re stepping on roots and branches, and the branches are so slippery, once you start sliding you slide. It looks like he slipped and couldn’t self-arrest.”
A Coast Guard helicopter was launched in an attempt to retrieve Hansen’s body but was ultimately unsuccessful. It took a team of technical climbers 12 hours overnight Friday to retrieve the body.
“(Retrieving the body is) important to the family, it provides closure to the family,” Ewers said. “Everybody wants to know what happened, too, so we can learn from it. It was success through technical expertise, teamwork and volunteerism. It’s sad, it’s a tragedy but it was real relief we were able to bring closure to the family.”
Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, http://www.sitkasentinel.com/