Boy missing at Chena Lakes Recreation Area

Posted: Wednesday, June 28, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Between 200 and 300 searchers combed the Chena Lakes Recreational Area Tuesday but failed to find an 11-year-old Ruby boy who walked away from a family picnic.

Brian Wright was last seen around 9 p.m. Sunday walking along the shoreline, said Tim Biggane, director of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Department of Emergency Operations.

Searchers have scoured the park several times and expanded the search area by a mile on all sides, said Capt. Michael Stickler, commander of the Alaska State Trooper's D Detachment in Fairbanks.

''We have pretty much pulled out the stops on this,'' he said.

Stickler said he would call of the ground search at 6 p.m.

Attention would be turned Wednesday to searching the lake, he said. Authorities were waiting for sonar equipment to be sent from Anchorage. If it wasn't available, they would get the equipment from Canada.

A search and rescue dog showed interest in the lake Tuesday but a dive team was not able to find anything, Stickler said. Visibility in the lake is only 3 or 4 inches and under 2 feet with high intensity lights.

The search area on Monday was expanded from the 259 acres of shoreline and woodland into subdivisions near the recreation area. Four boats, a helicopter with infrared and several dogs were being used in the search.

Many people had combed the area Sunday night with the aid of horses and four-wheelers, Biggane said.

The boy might have become disorientated when he was unable to find his family after they moved their picnic table, said investigator Gary Tellep of the Alaska State Troopers.

Close to 3,500 people visited the park on the sweltering Sunday, he said.

''Small kids move pretty quick,'' Tellep said, explaining the wide search area. ''Luckily we have some good weather. Hopefully it will hold up.''

Wright is a Native, about 4-foot-7, 60 pounds with a short, light brown crew cut and a light complexion. He was last seen wearing a blue tank top, navy cutoff shorts and white gym shoes.

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