NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The family of a Dover man who went missing on a hunting trip in Alaska has experienced yet another setback.
Steve Keel went missing in Alaska more than a year ago, and his wife, Liz Keel, recently reported human remains she believes are Steve’s had been located at the bottom of a lake. In a social media post, Liz said the remains are believed to be those of her husband.
Steve, an avid outdoorsman, was on a caribou hunting trip with a friend when he vanished. They arrived in Alaska on Aug. 20, 2022, and drove almost 500 miles north to the town of Deadhorse.
Liz told News 2 Steve and his friend were in constant contact with their families throughout the trip. Steve left the campsite on Aug. 28, 2022, to get supplies at a spot about a mile away where they stored their caribou meat, but never returned.
Liz explained Steve’s body was located in a lake in August by a team of divers using cadaver dogs, sonar, and a forensic device.
She alerted Alaska state troopers, who reportedly started the process of activating divers from a nonprofit group as the state does not have its own trained divers.
“Our team could have recovered Steve right then, but Alaska troopers said no, they would do the recovery. Part of our team had to leave and part stayed to keep an eye on the area,” explained Liz in a social media post.
It took a few weeks for authorities to organize recovery efforts and when a recovery team arrived, they were not able to relocate the position of Steve’s remains, according to his wife.
The Alaska Dive Search Rescue and Recovery Team reported on social media Thursday the search for Steve Keel has not been resolved while thanking multiple departments for their assistance.
On Friday afternoon, Austin McDaniel, communications director with the Alaska State Troopers-Department of Public Safety, released a statement on the search, which reads in part, “The highly specialized dive team used divers and a cadaver dog to thoroughly search for Keel and were not able to locate any human remains within the lake that the group had identified, or anywhere in the immediate area…Through physical examination of the area by divers, the item that the group believed to be a body from a sonar image was determined to not be human remains.”
It’s already getting colder in Alaska. As the weather turns, it will become more difficult for search teams to continue their operations. Still, Liz writes on the Search for Steve Facebook page that they “will be doing everything we can moving forward to bring Steve home.”
In the days following his disappearance, the Dover community jumped in to help look for Keel. Four Middle Tennessee men flew to Alaska to search on their own, and Keel’s own sons made the trip, but there was never any sign of him.