Alaska State Troopers dig deep to free elderly man snowed in

Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Jason Crockett and James Kurth help dig out an 87-year-old man from nearly two feet of snow in Talkeetna. Friday Nov. 29, 2019 (From Alaska State Troopers)
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — After nearly two feet of snow was topped off with with freezing rain in the Mat-Su Valley last week, an 87-year-old Talkeetna man found himself snowed in for days. On Friday morning, running low on water and stuck inside his home and unable to clear his driveway, he called for help.

With shovels in tow, Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Jason Crockett and Trooper James Kurth ventured north from the Palmer-Wasilla area to Talkeetna.

"He'd been stuck there since before Thanksgiving, and the big snow came, and then it rained. He told dispatch he was down to a couple bottles of water and their food supply was going low as well," Sgt. Crockett told KTUU by phone Saturday.

When they arrived, they found they had their work cut out for them.

"I think it was probably a good 18 inches on the ground. We initially tried to get a plow truck to come in and plow his driveway," Crockett said.

But local plow services weren't able to provide assistance at the time, with no trucks big enough available to move the wet, heavy snow.

Crockett says when he and Trooper Kurth arrived, they found that the man wasn't alone.

"His grandson was visiting from out of state, from Arizona, and he's actually never been in snow," Crockett said. "He'd seen it once in his life but had never been in a spot where it snowed before so he didn't really know what to do."

The Troopers enlisted the grandson's help, giving him a shovel and a brief snow removal tutorial, and the three of them got to work.

For two hours, Crockett, Kurth, and the man's grandson worked to clear a path in the driveway wide enough for a vehicle to get in or out.

But that wasn't all Crockett and Kurth did. Before the two made the drive to Talkeetna, unsure if they would be able to free the man, Crockett says they formed a backup plan.

"On the way up, we stopped at the Three Bears and picked up a case of water and some food for him and dropped it off to the house so they had something to eat just in case we couldn't get them freed up."

Crockett said the man has neighbors who normally help him out, clearing his driveway when there's snow and checking in on him regularly, but were gone due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

"It's kind of rare that we get a chance to do something that — it feels good. It feels good to help people. That's what Alaska is about," Crockett said.

He says that although he and Trooper Kurth did the shoveling, their assistance was only possible due to their fellow Troopers.

"There were several troopers who stayed in the Valley and covered calls so we could go up there and spend the two hours it took to shovel the driveway," Crocket said. "It really was a good group effort."

Crockett says preparation for adverse weather is important, but also that Alaskans should remember to check in on those around them that don't have family or friends nearby to help them.

"Make sure we're all looking out for each other. That's the big thing."

Copyright 2019 KTUU. All rights reserved.


Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Jason Crockett and James Kurth helped dig out an 87-year-old man from nearly two feet of snow in Talkeetna. Friday Nov. 29, 2019 (From Alaska State Troopers)
Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Jason Crockett and James Kurth help dig out an 87-year-old man from nearly two feet of snow in Talkeetna. Friday Nov. 29, 2019 (From Alaska State Troopers)