Search, hope continues for remainder of crew

Rescuers stay alert for 3 remaining helicopter occupants

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2007

 

  The LifeGuard Helicopter operated by Evergreen Helicopters sits on the pad in Anchorage in this Jan. 31 photo. Searchers continue to look for the missing medical helicopter that vanished Dec. 3 while heading to Alaska Providence Hospital from Cordova. (AP Photo/Alaska Journal of Comm

The LifeGuard Helicopter operated by Evergreen Helicopters sits on the pad in Anchorage in this Jan. 31 photo. Searchers continue to look for the missing medical helicopter that vanished Dec. 3 while heading to Alaska Providence Hospital from Cordova.

(AP Photo/Alaska Journal of Comm

Search and rescue workers located the remains of flight nurse John Stumpff, of Sterling, amongst some debris Saturday from a LifeGuard helicopter that went missing in the Prince William Sound area Dec. 3. The search for the remainder of the wreckage as well as the three other individuals aboard the helicopter continues.

McHugh Pierre, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said the debris washed up on the north shore of Passage Canal near Whittier and was located just after 1 p.m. Saturday. Rescuers have been unable to locate paramedic Cameron Carter of Kenai, pilot Lance Brabham of Soldotna or patient Gay McDowell of Cordova, but Pierre said they have a feeling they are in the vicinity of where the wreckage washed up on shore.

"Our folks and the other folks who are still searching are still treating this like there could be survivors," he said. "We're going to work as long as we can until we know otherwise."

Members of the Rescue Coordination Center, the Air National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska State Troopers have used helicopters and other aircraft to search Prince William Sound since the LifeGuard helicopter went missing.

The Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore and five other civilian vessels also have been searching the area by sea.

Central Emergency Services held a prayer service Sunday for its off-duty and on-duty crews. CES Chief Chris Mokracek said prayer meetings were coordinated by the department's chaplain, Keith Randall, and several other pastors throughout the Kenai Peninsula, and have been held every night since Tuesday.

"We just prayed they were safe on the mountain waiting for the weather to clear," Mokracek said. "We're still very hopeful that they're safe and sound. We send our sympathy to John Stumpff's family and thank all the searchers and everybody that's out there right now looking."

Most of all CES's firefighters and paramedics are praying that Cameron Carter, CES paramedic, comes home safely. Mokracek said Randall and another firefighter are offering their support to Carter's family in Palmer.

"He was a big part of our family here," he said.

Becky Hultberg, spokesperson for Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, said the hospital doesn't have a memorial service planned for Stumpff at this time, but will hold a candlelight vigil that was planned before the discovery of the wreckage. Even though he lived in Sterling, Stumpff worked for Central Peninsula Hospital and Providence Medical Center, she said.

"This is extremely emotional for our organization," she said. "We are in mourning for him and for the tragedy of this situation, but we haven't given up hope that there may still be a miracle."

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at jessica.cejnar@peninsulaclarion.com.



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