Hope man reported missing found dead

Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2000

The body of a Hope man reported overdue from a day fishing trip near his home was found dead Monday after a two-day search by Alaska State Troopers and volunteers.

Benny Dean Odgen, 51, was reported missing by friends Sunday afternoon after failing to returning from a day of fishing Saturday on the Sixmile River near Hope. His body was discovered by a trooper helicopter around 12:50 p.m. Monday, a mile downstream from where his truck had been parked at a pullout at Mile 3.8 of the Hope Highway.

A seven-hour search in windy and rainy conditions Sunday was called off due to darkness, and a dive team from Central Emergency Services in Soldotna returned to the area Monday morning. Divers recovered the body after troopers spotted it from the air.

"He still had his waders on and was fully clothed," said Girdwood trooper Robert Hoak.

Hoak said the body was taken to the State Medical Examiner's office in Anchorage for an autopsy.

Troopers, along with Alaska Mountain Rescue members and three rescue dog teams searched the area Sunday. A group from Nova River Runners in Girdwood also assisted in the river search with rafts and kayaks. Weather conditions at the time didn't allow for the launch of a helicopter, said Lt. Tom Bowman, commander of the troopers' E Detachment in Soldotna.

Bowman said it appeared Odgen was just out for a day of fishing.

"He was supposed to be home Saturday," Bowman said. "His friends gave him the benefit of the doubt and then contacted us the next day."

Bowman said searchers found his day pack on the river bank about 100 yards from where his truck was parked. Divers later found his fishing rod in a deep pool just downstream from the pack.

Bowman said that although some bear activity had been reported in the area, it appeared that Odgen did not have any contact with a bruin.

"I think if he would have had any contact with a bear, the ground team would have found something," he said.

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