ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Authorities are searching for a grandmother whose 2-year-old grandchild was found alone and abandoned for two days in a locked car that was stuck in mud on a rural Alaska road.
The search for Mary Dawn Wilson, 69, is being concentrated around the community of Healy, Alaska State Troopers said in a statement. The abandoned Ford Focus was found Thursday on Stampede Road, just outside Healy and off the Parks Highway.
The child appeared to be in good health and was handed over to the state Office of Children’s Services, the statement said.
Officials said evidence in the car indicated that the child and car were abandoned Tuesday when the vehicle became stuck, troopers said. There were indications she tried to free the car, Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Tim DeSpain said.
Wilson was the last known person with the child, the statement said,
Troopers said it’s believed she started walking, but in the opposite direction from the highway. Various law enforcement agencies, search dogs and the Alaska Wilderness Search and Rescue organization are looking for her near where the vehicle stopped.
Healy is located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Denali National Park and Preserve.
Stampede Road is famous for being the main thoroughfare that adventurers used to retrace the steps of Christopher McCandless, a young idealist whose journey on the Stampede Trail ended with his death.
The trail road eventually ends and opens up to treacherous Alaska backcountry, where McCandless took shelter in an abandoned city bus after he became trapped by the swollen Teklanika River.
He died of starvation in 1992 and his life and death were made famous by the book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer and then by the movie directed by Sean Penn.
Over the years, people trying to reach the bus that was located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Healy to pay pilgrimage to McCandless had to be rescued themselves or died. That prompted state officials to remove the bus from the backcountry in 2020.
The bus is currently being prepared for permanent outdoor display at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks. People can watch a livestream of the work being performed on the bus.