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Search continues for Nebagamon man missing in Alaska

BY MELISSA GANJE FOX 21 NEWS Paul Schoch of Lake Nebagamon loves the great outdoors. It has always been his dream to backpack in a remote location in Alaska, but he disappeared in the largest national park in the United States, Wrangell-St. Elias...

BY MELISSA GANJE

FOX 21 NEWS

Paul Schoch of Lake Nebagamon loves the great outdoors.

It has always been his dream to backpack in a remote location in Alaska, but he disappeared in the largest national park in the United States, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. He's been missing since Monday.

He was supposed to be picked up at the airstrip where he was dropped off but didn't show up there, said park spokesman Smitty Parratt.

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Park officials say Schoch, 68, was camping in an area of the park only accessible by small plane. When weather permitted the plane to pick him up on Monday, a day later than planned, Schoch didn't show.

Search efforts began and have escalated since then.

Parratt says Schoch's tent, food and other equipment were found nearby.

"We all have our fingers crossed that he has survived this and that we will find him alive and well, but it is a challenging environment due to the weather conditions that have moved in there since he was dropped off there," Parratt said.

Parratt says Schoch was dropped off last Wednesday at Skolai Pass.

"That's up around 4,500 feet, and we've had some stormy conditions lately that have ranged from basically cooler temperatures and then some rain and snow also, so there has been some snowfall up in that area since he went there," Parratt said.

Schoch's wife, Carol, says her husband loves backpacking and where he is now has always been his life's dream.

He was base camping and hiking around the area, probably involved in some photography, liked to be in the outdoors and was interested in seeing some of the local sites in that area, deep in the backcountry of Wrengall St. Elias.

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With no sign of Schoch since Monday, park spokesman Parratt says they're expanding the search.

"We're transitioning to an incident command team and expanding the search to try to put more folks on the ground to complete a more organized search of the likely areas that he might have gotten into from where his tent site was," Parratt said.

An aerial with a plane and helicopter is continuing.

Family members and friends in Lake Nebagamon continue to hold out hope.

"We will have a very intensive effort going on in the next 24 to 48 hours and we hope that we will find him during that time period," Parratt said.

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