Search for missing man continues

Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alaska State Troopers say they have identified an area of interest in the Kenai River during a Saturday search for a man who disappeared into the river Wednesday near The Pillars boat launch.

"They had a hit on a section of the river so they're going to go on Monday when things have calmed down and they're going to drag the river," said trooper spokesperson Beth Ipsen.

She said the area of interest is about 100 yards down from the boat launch.

On Wednesday afternoon a man was reported in the river about 100 feet upstream from the busy boat launch. Witnesses said they saw a shirtless man in the river struggling to stay afloat. Troopers said the man matched the description of Robert A. Smithwick, 41, of Soldotna. His vehicle was found parked at the boat launch. Smithwick has not been seen since Wednesday.

Ipsen said two dog teams and their handlers from Alaska Search and Rescue Dogs spent six hours searching the area Saturday.

"They plan to go out Monday when there aren't as many people around," she said.

It has not been confirmed if Smithwick was the man in the river. Troopers are encouraging anyone with information regarding his whereabouts to call the Soldotna office at 262-4453.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at

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