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Tennessee team heads to Alaska in search for missing hunter

Steve Keel disappeared 11 days ago
steve keel
Posted at 1:13 PM, Sep 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 20:59:08-04

DOVER, Tenn. (WTVF) — More help is on the way and no one is giving up. The search continues for a Stewart County hunter who disappeared more than a week ago in remote Alaska.

A search and rescue team from Middle Tennessee is now headed up north to help.

It just doesn't make sense. Steve Keel is an experienced outdoorsman. He goes prepared and there is just no explanation for how he disappeared without a trace.

It's now been 11 days since the Marine veteran vanished from his campsite at Deadhorse in far northern Alaska. It is rugged territory, but his wife says nothing her husband couldn't handle.

"I mean he's been in the woods out in terrain his entire life and you ask anybody, Steve's not a guy to get lost," said Liz Keel.

Steve Keel was on a hunting trip with long-time friend Bryan Collins and had left to go collect some caribou meat, but never returned.

Searches on the ground and from the air have so far turned up nothing.

Keel's own two adult sons even flew out to help look.

They are back now, but this morning four others from Stewart County with search and rescue experience boarded a plane for Alaska to help.

Each passing day with Keel missing in such a remote part of the world raises the question: can he still be alive?

"Everyone who knows him says he's tough as a pine knot so he could survive. They say if anybody could survive this it would be Steve Keel," said his wife.

The four from Tennessee will be assisted by authorities in Alaska with plans to use dogs on a grid search covering miles around Deadhorse.

The good news -- is the weather this time of year is not yet frigid ... and the days are not yet too short.

So, what happened to Keel?

Did the experienced outdoorsman get lost?

Was there an animal attack?

Did he fall in a ravine or got stuck in a mud bog?

A medical emergency?

All options remain on the table.

Even after 11 days, authorities in Alaska continue to call it a search and rescue operation — holding out hope Keel is still alive.