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Two missing men on Alaskan flight have Victoria ties

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 23, 2010 at 3:23 a.m.


Two men aboard a missing Anchorage, Alaska, plane have Victoria ties.

Indianapolis brothers Neal and Seth Spradlin are nephews of Dolores White, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker The Ron Brown Company.

They were among four people aboard a float plane that took off from Swikshuk Bay, Alaska, and never arrived at its destination, King Salmon Island.

The men - two of eight siblings - are very different, White said, describing Neal Spradlin, 28, as "a mountain man" who had been with the parks department about eight years.

"He works in the summer for the parks department and, in the winters, he skis," she said.

Seth Spradlin, 20, is shy and sensitive, White said. He recently took the parks department job to be with his brother and save up for art school.

"He's always painted wildlife - ducks, deer, things like that," she said.

News traveled slowly from Alaska.

Monday afternoon she received word from a park ranger that a full-fledged search should begin Tuesday, she said. And the men's parents will fly to Anchorage, if weather allows.

Otherwise, the family is watching for news updates.

"We're just waiting," White said.

The search for the four involves dozens of people and has included aircraft from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Alaska Air National Guard, the Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska State Troopers and a private carrier, said Katmai National Park Superintendent Ralph Moore.

The missing de Havilland Beaver float plane, owned by Branch River Air Service of King Salmon and equipped with an emergency locator transmitter, vanished after leaving Swikshak Lagoon early Saturday afternoon, according to the park service.

The Katmai National Park maintenance crew was in Swikshak, east of King Salmon, to work on replacing a deteriorated ranger station, Moore said.

The contracted plane picked up the Park Service crew of three around 1:45 p.m. Saturday. A second Branch River plane, which picked up two other Park Service employees, left about 15 minutes later. The second plane made it to King Salmon in about an hour, but the first plane never arrived. The weather was deteriorating and the plane that made it through had to fly about 500 feet above ground level along a river drainage, according to the Park Service.

The search covers a wide and rugged area between King Salmon and the park's Pacific coast. Searchers were concentrating on river valleys that drain into Kamishak Bay.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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