Missing Anchorage hiker’s body recovered

Anchorage police, nor Alaska Search and Rescue, have directly addressed the family of a missing hiker's concerns about a search being called off
Published: Jun. 3, 2023 at 6:28 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The body of Anchorage hiker Juan Toscano was recovered Saturday morning, according to family members.

The 28-year-old had been missing since Tuesday when he went hiking along the Basher Trail.

Itzel Toscano, the victim’s sister, said after searchers found the body in the Campbell Creek Gorge Friday night, it wasn’t until Saturday morning that his body was able to be extracted from the river.

“The body was recovered this morning around 8 to 9 a.m.,” Itzel said on Saturday. “My family and I were there for 24 hours. Many of our friends and family stayed there with us as we did not want to leave him alone.”

Juan Toscano’s body had been found by family and friends at about 9 p.m. Friday. The official search had been ended by the Alaska Search and Rescue Team at 9 p.m. on Thursday, the Anchorage Police Department said in a prepared statement Saturday.

“We were out here all day since the morning by ourselves, just family and friends,” Itzel said early Saturday morning. “I don’t know who, but they said the rescue team couldn’t be here unless that we found more clues as to that he was in the area. So, we kept looking and looking and unfortunately, we found him, one of his best friends walked the entire river, what no one else did.”

Tragically, it was the friend who located the body.

“He went down there and he walked it and he found him. And so now we’re here and I can’t help but think if things would be different if they had done that sooner. If the people who were supposed to do that did that sooner and didn’t come out here for two days,” Itzel said.

Anchorage police have not directly commented about the family’s concerns about the search being called off. The department issued a statement early Saturday night.

“Multiple resources were deployed during the search to include dogs, drones, ATVs, and an aerial search,” police said. “Searchers did not find any sign of Toscano nor any signs of an animal attack in the area.”

Police said that Toscano’s body was discovered by a volunteer shortly before 9 p.m. on Friday. By Saturday morning, police officers and members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue group were called to the area to recover Toscano’s body.

The body was transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office, which will ultimately determine the cause of death. At this time, police have found nothing to indicate that the death is criminal in nature.

When asked why the search was called off and how to address the family’s concerns about the decision to call it off, Alaska Search and Rescue declined to comment.