A Cantwell woman seeking help to find her husband Tuesday night suffered what Alaska State Troopers describe as “extreme hypothermia,” before she was found by an Alaska Wildlife Trooper and Alaska Air National Guard aircraft crews safely located him.
Official search efforts for the couple began when at about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, when a family member notified troopers that they were overdue near Mile 105 of the Denali Highway. After 47-year-old Scott Mayo didn’t return from checking a trap line, 56-year-old Vivian Mayo left their cabin to get help.
An Alaska Wildlife Trooper and a group of volunteers arrived to help find the couple, encountering Vivian Mayo first.
“Vivian was located approximately one mile away from the cabin,” troopers wrote. “She was suffering from what appeared to be extreme hypothermia and was in immediate need of medical attention.”
AST spokesperson Megan Peters says that with temperatures at 20 degrees below zero the trooper, James Ellison, moved quickly to get Vivian to safety. She says it’s not immediately clear how long Mayo spent outdoors.
“He hit off his personal locator beacon because he couldn’t contact anyone and he didn’t want to waste time,” Peters said.
Ellison later radioed dispatch just after 1 a.m., saying he had finally reached the 11th Air Force’s Rescue Coordination Center and that Vivian had been taken back to the cabin.
As an C-130 search plane and an HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter arrived in the area, Ellison continued to search for Scott Mayo, telling dispatchers at about 2:45 a.m. that he believed he had found Mayo’s trail.
The air support from Guard units finally led to Mayo’s recovery, after nearly two and a half hours of additional searching.
“At (5:13 a.m.) RCC notified AST that Scott was located by the C-130 and then the Pavehawk crew was able to retrieve him,” troopers wrote. “Scott was found by a small warming fire and he was in good condition.”
Both of the Mayos were flown to an Anchorage hospital for treatment. Peters didn’t have immediate word on their condition Wednesday morning.
“The C-130 found (Scott) and let us know we could get our trooper out of the field,” Peters said.
Following the search efforts, Peters says Ellison -- described in a salute to veterans among AST's ranks as a member of the U.S. Army, National Guard and Reserves from 1983 to 1996 -- went home to “get a good night’s sleep.”
“(Ellison) was definitely out there doing a very heroic thing, and he was out all night,” Peters said.