NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been almost a month since Liz Keel last saw her husband, Steve, who disappeared in the Alaskan wilderness while caribou hunting Aug. 27.
“It’s probably the toughest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life, to be honest,” Liz Keel said.
Steve Keel left for Alaska with a friend on Aug. 20 and traveled to a remote part of the state called Deadhorse to hunt for caribou.
📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts →
Liz told News 2 her husband and his friend were getting ready to head back to Fairbanks on Aug. 27th. Keel went back to grab his backpack less than a mile away from their campsite but never returned. He was reported missing the following day.
Keel’s two sons flew to Alaska to search for their dad, however, they had no luck.
“In those particular areas they didn’t see anything to indicate that he was down with a medical emergency or any sign that he had actually been there,” Liz said.
Four Middle Tennessee men, some with military experience and training in the Alaskan wilderness, took over the search.
Keel’s wife said the terrain is rugged and unforgiving—adding it took four hours to walk around 2.8 miles, which made the men’s search fruitless on foot.
The men returned to Nashville Tuesday without Keel, but the search didn’t end there.
Alaskan locals, including two truck drivers who are total strangers to Keel, are now looking for him. They’ve driven at least nine hours to help volunteers and spent their own money on supplies to make the search crews more comfortable, according to Keel’s wife.
“There’s nothing you can say to thank them from the bottom of your heart because you’re just so amazed at their humanity, their kindness, reaching out there to people they don’t even know and searching frantically for this person they don’t know, but they want to know,” Liz said.
She hopes they will find her husband soon. In the meantime, Liz requested the North Slope Search and Rescue deploy their RECCO device, which is placed on a helicopter and can ping a cell phone’s circuit board, even if the cell phone battery is dead.
Keel’s wife is also working to find air support for two additional groups who reached out to her to help in the search.
When News 2 asked Liz how people in Tennessee can help, she said, “They can pray. Pray for Steve to be sustained while we go through this search and find him, pray that if he’s hurt that he can hold on until we get there. Pray for all of the searchers who are spending their time, their money, and their resources to go out there and look for him, and pray for our family that we can hold on and just be uplifted and know that he’s going to come home soon.”
Donations to fund the search efforts may be made to the F&M Bank in Dover, TN.