Troopers discontinue search for missing Ruby girl

Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An official search was called off Wednesday for a 16-year-old Ruby girl who apparently drowned in the Kobuk River after a boating accident more than two weeks ago.

Volunteers from Ruby and other villages, however, continued to comb the river near Shungnak to look for Stephanie Bennis, said search coordinator Minnie Agwiak-Booth in Kotzebue. Bennis, a student at the Galena Charter School, disappeared June 5 when she was thrown from a boat.

Alaska State Troopers discontinued their involvement in the search but said divers might be brought in once the Kobuk begins to clear. Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said that as many as 20 boats searched the water daily. An air search was launched as well.

Bennis and boyfriend Aaron Tickett, 18, of Shungnak, were on their way back to Kobuk when the boat struck something. Both were thrown into the river. Tickett managed to swim to a sandbar, retrieve the boat and get help.

Searchers later found the girl's shoes and some of her hair in the murky and swift water between Kobuk and Shungnak.

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