Big Lake search honing in on specific areas; still no sign of snowmachining couple

Searchers gather to try to find LaVerne and Van Pettigen, missing since this weekend near Big...
Searchers gather to try to find LaVerne and Van Pettigen, missing since this weekend near Big Lake. (KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 20, 2018 at 2:51 PM AKST
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Thursday, the search groups are smaller in Big Lake. It's been days since Van and Laverne Pettigen were last seen, snowmachining in the area.

. Now, volunteers are focusing on specific areas, hoping to find clues that might have been overlooked so far.

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Dan Mayfield, a member of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly, has been one of the active search party organizers. His group is still out on the trails today.

"Yesterday we had an enormous amount of people on the trails," said Mayfield. "We did a really good job, but I think at this point in time... We need to have more defined searches, so that we can hopefully find these folks safe."

The volunteers and MAT SAR Search and Rescue are working their way around the northern shore of Big Lake, and scouring previously-searched areas again.

According to Mayfield, the search has been filled with its own hazards. There are several areas on and near the lake where searchers have encountered open water, overflow and impassable streams.

State Troopers are also expected to rejoin the search Thursday by air, and possibly probing ice holes in areas where lake water is exposed.

For now, the crews out working are staying positive, and searching the areas where they know the Pettigens frequently ride.

"We're searching all the places where there are cabins and possibly water hazards and we can check and make sure those folks aren’t in those areas,” said Mayfield.