Volunteer searchers continue to look between Elim and Golovin for a missing Elim elder who was last seen on September 23rd. According to Alaska State Troopers, he wasn’t reported missing until October 3rd.
Troopers believe 70-year-old Tommy Saccheus, Sr. tried to walk from Golovin to Elim by himself, a distance of approximately 28 miles. Trooper Honie Culley reported that he normally resides with his son in Elim.
In late September, Saccheus had joined a whaling party in Elim, however, inclement weather forced the group to come ashore in Golovin. Troopers believe that while Saccheus stayed in Golovin with family and friends, the hunting party allegedly decided to return to Elim. Locals say Saccheus had mentioned that he was considering walking to Elim but it took residents a few days to realize he had left. That’s when local searchers began to scout the area, looking for the Elim elder.
A member of the search party said heavy rain at the time caused the McKinley River to run high and fast.
When Saccheus went missing in September, Trooper Culley says his son was out at camp and did not know about his father’s whereabouts. Even AST were not alerted to the missing person incident until Golovin Village Police Officer Julian Navarro reported it on October 3rd.
AST did not release an official public dispatch for incident: AK19068609. Spokesperson Ken Marsh says normally a dispatch is issued for Trooper response to a missing person, but can sometimes be overlooked when Troopers are busy. Another incident involving two hunters in Gambell occurring on October 15th did not have a corresponding public dispatch either, until KNOM contacted Troopers about the incident on October 23rd.
Troopers searched the area between Elim and Golovin until October 9th using aircraft and boats but AST spokesperson Ken Marsh says the search was often impeded by high water and rain. No sign or indication of Saccheus’s whereabouts has been reported. The missing person bulletin said Saccheus requires medical attention from a caregiver but did not give specifics about his condition.
Tommy Saccheus stands about five foot three and was last seen in a hooded camouflage jacket, blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Anyone with any information can call AST at 907-443-2835.
Image at top: Elim in winter, photo from KNOM file.