Troopers identify body of man who disappeared in March 2001

Posted: Tuesday, June 04, 2002

BETHEL (AP) -- The remains of an Akiachak man who disappeared more than a year ago have been identified, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The body found by a hunter near Newtok last month is that of Mike Wassilie, who was 48 when he was reported missing March 10, 2001.

A major search was launched at the time, involving ten villages and numerous aircraft. They checked an area of about 300 square miles over several days. But they didn't spot Wassilie.

His mother told troopers at the time she thought he had gone to Nunapitchuk, about 40 miles to the west, on his snowachine, and reported him missing when he didn't return the next day.

But while searchers looked around the Kuskokwim River area, Wassilie had gone about 70 miles west of Nunapitchuk.

His snowmachine was found in June of last year about 19 miles north of Newtok, which is about 70 miles west of Nunapitchuk and well over a hundred miles from his home, according to trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

After the machine was found, a new search was mounted for the area within 20 miles of that site, Wilkinson said.

But it turned out Wassilie had traveled 25 miles to the southwest from his snowmachine, apparently on foot, before he perished in the remote wilderness.

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