Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Troopers suspend search for Simmons and Larson


December 3, 2020

Photo courtesy of the Simmons and Larson families.

The Alaska State Troopers suspended search operations Monday for Jenae Larson, 23, and David Simmons, 30, who went missing last week after a massive landslide above Beach Road.

Mayor Douglas Olerud notified the community early Monday evening that continued rain and the risk of more landslides have prevented further search efforts of the debris field.

"We are doing everything we can to find them," Olerud said. "Looking at the reality of the situation, a slide happened a couple days ago, and we have been experiencing winter weather conditions and continued amounts of precipitation have been falling. It doesn't look good, and it brings me great pain to say that it is more than likely that Jenae and David are deceased."

Olerud will provide a community update at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion.

Simmons owned a home in the path of the slide and Larson lived in an apartment above his garage.

The Troopers said they suspended operations earlier in the day and ground searchers left Haines on the P/V Enforcer.

"We have done all we can without going into the debris field and it is not safe to send people into," trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said. "If it's unstable, we're not going to put search and rescue volunteers at unnecessary risk."

The slide debris has remained unstable according to state geohydrologists and geoscientists. When conditions stabilize, Peters said it's possible Trooper assets will return to continue searching.

"Typically, when we have situations like these, we revisit them when it's safe to do so," Peters said. "That can take weeks or months. It depends on the weather and the ground and what resources are available. We do our best to account for individuals one way or another."

Olerud thanked state and federal agencies that assisted in the search thus far, including "our very own Haines Volunteer Fire Department and Haines Borough Police Department."

"So many heeded the call when we asked for help," Olerud said. "From the bottom of my heart, thank you all."

The Troopers added Simmons and Larson to the Trooper's list of missing persons, a repository of all missing persons reported to law enforcement across the state.

Larson graduated from Haines High School in 2016. She earned a teaching degree and moved back to her hometown where she began teaching kindergarten this year. Simmons moved to Haines several years ago and helped his cousin Cambria Goodwin start the pizza restaurant Alpenglow. He later started a Haines to Whitehorse shuttle service and worked at Olerud's Market Center before being hired to serve as the Haines Economic Development Corporation executive director.


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