During the early hours of May 10, the Alaska Army National Guard rescued four stranded boaters and one dog on the Kuskokwim River between Bethel and Kwethluk.
According to a press release from the National Guard, the boaters got stuck behind an ice jam and called for help around 1 a.m., but their phone died before it could be tracked to an exact location. Once the National Guard located the boaters in a rescue helicopter, a medic helped the individuals and the dog board the aircraft and treated them for early-stage hypothermia.
In response to the incident, Bethel Search and Rescue president Mike Riley said that while it’s generally safe to boat during the day, boaters should avoid the river at night. He said that there is still ice coming down, and it’s difficult to see after dark. He urged boaters to wear their life jackets and to prepare for an emergency situation.
“Be prepared with a fully charged cell phone or your camping gear, and then a way to kind of spend a night out on the river somewhere,” said Riley.
The National Guard flew the boaters and their dog back to Bethel.