Dennis James, 05-25-03

Jerry Aningayou

Coast Guard launches air search for missing walrus hunters

GAMBELL - The Coast Guard was searching Monday for two Gambell walrus hunters who were reported overdue.

Dennis James and Jerry Aningayou failed to return Sunday from a weekend hunting trip north of Gambell, the Coast Guard said. The men left Gambell in a 20-foot aluminum-hull skiff with three other skiffs of hunters about 2 a.m. Saturday and were expected to return 24 hours later.

The others returned by the time expected early Sunday.

A Coast Guard C-130 airplane and crew searched the hunting area about 40 miles north of Gambell on Sunday night. The search was hampered by low clouds that reduced visibility, as well as 30-mph winds and 6-foot seas.

The rescue crew searched until about 2 a.m. Monday, when it became too dark for searchers to see the water.

A second C-130 and crew arrived on scene later Monday morning to continue the search north and west of St. Lawrence Island. That crew reported similar weather conditions.

-- The Associated Press