A father and son on an Arctic rafting expedition survived a plunge under river ice and five days without food or supplies, rescuers said.
Blake Stanfield, a Seward physician, and his father, Neil, of Oklahoma City, were found "starving and tired and exhausted" before being flown out of the wilderness early Wednesday by an Army helicopter, said 1st Lt. Wesley Madden, an Army pilot.
Shelly Stanfield, wife of the 38-year-old doctor, was waiting for her husband to return home Thursday. She first learned of the ordeal when he called her Wednesday morning, two days before he was due to come home from the trip with his father. Blake Stanfield told his wife his feet were torn up from hiking for days without shoes to look for help.
The men told rescuers they were trapped under about 30 feet of water on the north fork of the Koyukuk River before surfacing in a break in the ice. The break lasted long enough for them to grab a breath before being swept underneath a longer section of ice, said Chief Warrant Officer Keith Northcutt, another Army pilot.
"The only thing that saved them was a little pocket where they could hold their head and breathe," Northcutt said. They were eventually swept into ice-free water, but most of their supplies were lost.
The son set his father up in a one-man tent and hiked out to get help, Northcutt said. Shelly