Dozens of snow machiners search for missing couple in Big Lake

 Snowmachines are lined up at the Search And Rescue staging area in Big Lake (KTUU)
Snowmachines are lined up at the Search And Rescue staging area in Big Lake (KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 19, 2018 at 3:32 PM AKST
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It’s day two of an ongoing search for a missing couple, last believed to have been snow machining in the Big Lake area on Sunday morning.

The Alaska State Troopers, the Rescue Coordination Center, and several volunteer groups are now combing the area in search of Laverne and Van Pettigen, ages 64 and 66.

Air and land search operations are underway, with at least three aircraft and dozens of snow machines in the area where it’s believed the Pettigens would have been riding.

Photos of Van and Laverne Pettigen show the snowmachines they're believed to be riding (Courtesy LaTisha Pettigen)

According to Alaska State Trooper Lt. Paul Fussey, the current search area is wide because the direction the two were traveling is not known. At this stage, searchers are looking for any signs that the couple passed through specific areas, which would significantly narrow the scope of search operations.

One searcher told Channel 2 the snow machiners were heading out in groups of more than two dozen to hit specific mainline trails, before breaking off into smaller groups from there. Trails and lakes had lots of overflow — when lake or swamp water gets on top of the ice — and muddy spots, he said.

This is a developing story

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