A 49-year-old Nikiski volunteer firefighter has disappeared without a trace.
Jack Conright left his home during the early morning hours Saturday without waking his wife, Darlene Conright. He has not been seen since.
Darlene Conright said her husband is an avid hunter and outdoorsman, but that this behavior is very out of character for him; he normally tells her where he is going and when he will return.
Jack Conright is 6-foot-1 with shoulder-length reddish-brown hair. He frequently wears a rolled up blue bandana to push his hair back. Darlene Conright said he is possibly wearing jeans, a dark shirt, and rubber boots, and that he may have left their home on a mountain bike.
Darlene Conright speculated her husband could be in Homer, where the two have many friends and a boat. She said he does not have a cell phone or any other communication device.
A missing person report has been filed with the Alaska State Troopers.
Trooper Spokesperson Megan Peters said search efforts have been conducted on foot with canine units as well as with ATVs and helicopters.
“There is no indication of what happened to him or where he went,” Peters said. “There’s nothing for us to go off of.”
Troopers conducted another aerial search on Wednesday, but called off the active search after finding no evidence of the Nikiski man.
“It’s not practical to keep it up,” Peters said, pointing to the state’s limited resources. “We need evidence in order to go back and do more or to point us in a different direction.”
Peters said once a search of the “probable area” is completed, the investigation rapidly becomes a needle in a haystack situation, sucking up resources required for other cases.
“We know he’s not where he’s supposed to be,” Peters said, “but beyond that we have no idea what his intentions were when he left.”
Darlene Conright said a helicopter flew around her house for three or four hours on Wednesday, a method she doesn’t hold against the troopers, but one she found ineffective and repetitive.
“He’s not by the house,” she said. “That was really a waste of resources, in my opinion.”
She added, though, that options are limited when there are no leads to follow.
A search and rescue team organized by the Nikiski Fire Department performed another ground search with 20 volunteers participating on Wednesday. The department’s dive team swept a lake close to the Conrights’ home last weekend, and searched several more Wednesday.
“We wanted to go ahead and sweep those to make sure we don’t miss anything,” said Fire Chief James Baisden.
Baisden said that despite the troopers’ cessation of the active search, the fire department’s volunteer squad will continue to conduct day-to-day search efforts depending on any emerging leads or evidence.
Jack Conright has worked for the Nikiski volunteer fire department for over 20 years.
“We’re still hoping for the best,” said Baisden. “We hope it has a good ending to it.”
The independent Nikiski search team is still looking for volunteers, and those interested in helping can contact Baisden at 776-6401.
Anyone with information on Jack Conright’s whereabouts is urged to contact law enforcement personnel immediately.