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Missing man found in snow cave atop Valdez Glacier

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Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 5:54 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A 57-year-old man reported missing by his family over the weekend was found alive in a snow cave on top of Valdez Glacier Monday morning, according to a joint release from the City of Valdez and the Valdez Fire Department.

In their statement, the agencies said that dispatchers had received word of an overdue snowmachine rider at around 10:15 a.m. Sunday. The family of Tim Mills had contacted first responders, reporting the man missing after he didn’t return from a ride near Valdez Glacier on Saturday.

Searchers had initially only found Mills’ vehicle in the Valdez Glacier parking lot when they launched their efforts early Sunday.

“Multiple specialized teams on snowmachine,” the joint release said, “consisting of riders from VFD Backcountry Search and Rescue and Valdez Snowmachine Club, spent approximately ten hours Sunday searching the glacier area for Mills.”

A helicopter crew was on standby, waiting for a break in the weather, but the search was suspended at sunset Sunday – with VFD Incident Commander and Captain Mike Bowden citing poor visibility and unstable glacier conditions – before beginning again at first light Monday.

At around 8:45 in the morning, ground teams found Mills, “alive and sheltering in a snow cave on top of Valdez Glacier.”

“This search ended the way we hope these cases will end,” Bowden said in the prepared statement, “successfully locating the missing person alive. My sincerest thanks to the first responders from VFD and the Valdez Snowmachine Club for their tireless efforts.”

Mills was treated for moderate hypothermia, the release said, and taken to a local hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to say searchers had initially only found Mills’ vehicle, not snowmachine.

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