Coast Guard rescues overdue ATV riders on Kodiak Island

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, locates two missing men after detecting their heat signatures inside a cabin near Saltery Cove on Kodiak Island. As the helicopter approached the cabin, the crew could see smoke rising from the chimney and the word “HELP” spilled out with driftwood in the cabin’s driveway. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Kodiak

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, locates two missing men after detecting their heat signatures inside a cabin near Saltery Cove on Kodiak Island. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Kodiak

KODIAK, Alaska — The Coast Guard rescued two men Sunday after they became stranded during an all-terrain vehicle trip on Kodiak Island.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak located the men after detecting their heat signatures inside a cabin near Saltery Cove. As the helicopter approached the cabin, the crew could see smoke rising from the chimney and the word “HELP” spilled out with driftwood in the cabin’s driveway.

Alaska State Troopers requested aerial support from the Coast Guard Sunday morning after a family member reported the men overdue to return from an ATV excursion.

The Coast Guard searched in low visibility for several hours and managed to locate the men’s ATVs, before returning to the air station to refuel. After refueling, they headed back out and began to double check some of the places they’d already looked, which included numerous cabins near the abandoned ATVs.

The helicopter crew used a forward looking infrared camera on the helicopter to look for human heat signatures. They found the men in a cabin they’d already checked earlier in the day.

The crew landed in a grassy area about 300 yards from the cabin and took the men aboard. The men stated that one ATV had broken down and the other had become stuck in the mud. They were experiencing the early stages of hypothermia and decided to use the cabin to start a fire and get warm.

“These men did exactly what anyone facing hypothermia should do,” said Lt. Jack Shadwick, co-pilot for the case. “They found the closest logical option to warm themselves quickly, and they found a way to attract the attention of search crews. We were happy to be able to assist the Alaska State Troopers and bring these men home to their families.”

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