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Troopers find body of man frozen in creek

Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Alaska State Troopers spent more than three hours Monday cutting through nearly a foot of ice to recover a body found frozen in Cripple Creek, about six miles southwest of Fairbanks.

Because the body was completely covered in ice, troopers were unable to identify it, but it was believed to be that of a man reported missing in the area, trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said Tuesday.

Matthew Head, 19, was reported missing Sunday by his mother. Dawn Head told troopers she had not seen her son since March 19.

''We assume and the family assumes that this is Matthew's body,'' Wilkinson said.

Troopers expect to have positive identification by Thursday, Wilkinson said.

The cause of death was not known. The medical examiner's office was carefully thawing the body to preserve any evidence.

''At this point we have no reason to believe foul play was involved, but we don't rule it out either,'' Wilkinson said.

The body was spotted from an airplane at about 9:30 a.m. by troopers conducting an aerial search for Head.

Trooper Investigator Eric Olsen said only the part of the left shoulder and leg were showing through the overflow in the roughly 70-foot wide creek, behind a gas station on the Parks Highway.

Troopers had to break trail through a densely wooded area and climb down a steep ravine to get to the body. They started chipping through ice at about 2:30 p.m. and didn't get the body out until 6 p.m., Olsen said.

Troopers used chainsaws, axes and ''whatever it took'' to cut through the ice before removing the body, Olsen said.

''We had to get him up a pretty steep ravine and snowmachine the body out of the area,'' Olsen said.



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