John Wipert 06-15-09

Searchers in Canada to join hunt for caretaker

Anchorage Daily News /, Published: July 7th, 2009

WRANGELL-ST. ELIAS -- Searchers are continuing to look for a 60-year-old lodge caretaker last seen in mid-June but have so far turned up no sign of him, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday.

John Wipert had been taking care of the Ptarmigan Lake Lodge in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park when he took off with two of the lodge's horses and vanished, troopers said. He left no indication that he planned to disappear and officials were operating on the assumption he was lost or injured, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Searchers covering the area by ground and air have checked the likely routes he might have taken and are now turning their efforts to less likely paths, Peters said. They were to be joined by aerial searchers across the border in Canada today, she said.

Wipert may have tried to cross the White River and searchers plan to focus their attention on the drainage in coming days, Peters said.

Wipert is described as being 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds. He has blue eyes and gray hair.

Anyone who may have seen Wipert or the horses is asked to call troopers at 907-883-5111 or 907-451-5100.