Searchers find body that may be missing trapper

Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Searchers on Monday found a body near the mouth of the Tatonduk River, according to Alaska State Troopers. They were not sure Monday whether it was Richard Cook, 70, who has been missing for several days.

On Saturday, searchers found a canoe belonging to the Eagle-area subsistence hunter, trapper and fisherman who lived in a Tatonduk River cabin.

Cook had been expected in Eagle on June 14 and was supposed to make his way to an appointment in Fairbanks the following day.

Cook, whose cabin is roughly 23 river miles northwest of Eagle in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, was reported missing by friends last Tuesday. His disappearance kicked off a search that involved the National Park Service, Alaska State Troopers, and Eagle-area volunteers.

''A canoe that belonged to him was located in the Tatonduk,'' said Roger Semler of the National Park Service. The canoe was found submerged 1.5 miles from the mouth of the river and 3.5 miles from Cook's cabin.

''There's been other items -- debris-type items -- located,'' said Semler. ''There's a strong suspicion that these were his items.''

Semler said searchers found a fuel tank, a paddle and a dry bag containing personal items.

He said Cook apparently had been a resident of the area for at least three decades.

The body found about 300 yards from the mouth of the Tatonduk is being transported to the state medical examiner for positive identification, according to troopers.

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