Body of missing snowmachiner located

Posted: Sunday, April 12, 2009

For the third time in slightly more than a month, an Alaskan has died while taking part in outdoor recreation, only this time it was in the Caribou Hills.

"It can end real fast when people aren't prepared for the worst," said Ryan Browning, an Alaska State Trooper posted in Anchor Point.

The first of the spring mortalities was Royce Herbert Morgan, 18, of Anchorage, who died of hypothermia due to environmental exposure on Feb. 25 when he became separated from his brother while snowboarding in Hatcher Pass. The second was Yancy Flair, 35 of Anchorage, who died when he was buried in an avalanche while snowmachining in Johnson Pass on March 28.

The most recent accidental death involved Bryan W. Farrow, 47, of Homer, who was last seen alive on April 3, when leaving a Greer Road residence at around noon. Riding on a 1989 Yamaha Phazer snowmachine, his intention reportedly was to visit a friend living near Caribou Lake, about 20 miles away.

He never made it.

A neighbor reported Farrow missing to Alaska State Troopers on the evening of April 7. An extensive search of the Caribou Hills trail system was launched. Helo 1, a trooper helicopter, and two fixed-wing aircraft, one from the troopers and another from the Civil Air Patrol, conducted air searches of the area.

Meanwhile, friends and neighbors joined searchers from the Central Emergency Services in Soldotna and Snowmads, a snowmachine club from Homer, to comb the area trails on snowmachines and on foot.

On Friday at approximately 3:40 p.m., Farrow's body was located by Civil Air Patrol search flight members. It was found about 1.5 miles west of Caribou Lake.

"The body has been recovered. We went out in Helo 1 and got him. We wanted to get him out of there and back to his family," Browning said.

Farrow was described as an experienced outdoorsman and snowmachiner, who was dressed for cold weather.

"He had on Carhartts, and a hat and gloves, and he had a Leatherman. He was dressed warm, but not with anything waterproof," Browning said.

Farrow also did not have proper gear to overnight in Caribou Hills.

Due to closing extreme weather, searchers did not locate Farrow's snowmachine, so the circumstances that led to him being on foot are still unclear.

"It's possible he may have wrecked or gotten stuck and was trying to walk out," Browning said.

There was no evidence of foul play, he added, and a search for the snowmachine will continue.

Browning said many outdoor fatalities are avoidable if proper precautions are in place.

"People need to always have a contingency plan, and overnight or emergency equipment in case the weather turns bad or something goes wrong. It's also never a good idea to be alone in the outdoors," he said.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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