• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 15s

Father, infant medevacs draw attention to lack of road between King Cove and Cold Bay

By KTVA Alaska 7:43 PM March 19, 2014

Two U.S. Coast Guard medevacs in a single day shine light on a fight that's been waging on for nearly 40 years.

ANCHORAGE - Residents of King Cove say they need a road to the all-weather airport in Cold Bay, but the federal government is standing in the way.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell decided back in December 2013 that, “building a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge would cause irreversible damage not only to the refuge, but to the wildlife that depend on it.”

After four medevacs so far this year, residents of King Cove are asking, “What about the people?”

The U.S. Coast Guard was called for two of those medevacs out of King Cove this month.

One patient was nearly crushed by 600 pounds of fishing equipment. The other patient was having breathing issues. Those two patients were Walter Wilson and his 6-week-old son, Wyatt.

As Wyatt lies in the Alaska Native Medical Center, he lets out a subtle wheeze with each breath. That, according to his father Walter, is a sign of progress.

“Still got the cough and a little groggy through his nose breathing, but he’s doing better and better,” Walter said. “That’s a good thing.”

A very good thing, considering Wyatt actually stopped breathing while waiting six hours for a medevac to Anchorage. That’s where Wyatt would have to go to receive the life-saving care he needed for treatment of his respiratory syncytial virus, an illness that can prove fatal, and nearly did in Wyatt’s case.

Waiting next to Wyatt in King Cove’s primary care clinic is his father Walter, in excruciating pain after 600 pounds of fishing equipment nearly crushed him.

“In the afternoon is when it happened. I got here the morning after,” Walter said. “I just couldn’t do nothing. My hips were out of place until I got here to Anchorage.”

It’s a story out of the Alaska Peninsula that has become far too common, according to King Cove Mayor Henry Mack.

“We’re thankful that we haven’t lost anybody but, my God, we need this road,” Mack said.

Mack has been fighting for the road that would’ve saved Walter and Wyatt and so many others from wasting critical time waiting since the 1970s with little progress.

The road would connect the small community of King Cove to the all-weather airport in Cold Bay, where patients could immediately fly to Anchorage to receive care.

With no road, the Coast Guard is tasked to transport patients.

“They’re gracious men and women who come and help save our people,” Mack said. “If we had a road that we could use to get over to Cold Bay, we didn’t have to have the Walter Jr.s and his son, the Irene Newmans …”

Or Mack’s own grandson, Nick, who was forced to wait seven hours for a medevac while suffering respiratory failure.

“We had to sit with him all night long,” Mack recalls. “You know, you sit there and you watch him try to gasp for air and you’ve just go to hold him close, rub him.”

Setting aside the suffering of the men, women and children of King Cove, Jewell has decided the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge needs protecting more than these residents need that road.

Jewell’s office responded to KTVA’s request to speak with her via email citing her Dec. 23 statement on this decision saying, “I understand the need for reliable methods of medical transport from King Cove, but I have concluded that other methods of transport remain that could be improved to meet community needs.”

Mack says advocates for the road to Cold Bay are planning to travel to Washington D.C. this coming week to speak with Jewell.

“People really need to know what’s going on,” Mack said. “This is about our lives, our young people’s lives.”

Meanwhile, as Walter and Wyatt heal, they’ll serve as yet another mile marker on the long-awaited road to King Cove.

Latest Stories

  • On-Air

    Fixing lazy eye: It’s not too late for adults

    by Ivanhoe Newswire on Jun 24, 13:10

    CHICAGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Doctors call it strabismus, but most of us know it as lazy eye or wandering eye. Special glasses, eye patches and exercises are used to train the eyes to stay straight. But very few patients realize there’s a surgery that can permanently fix misaligned eyes in adults. Sixty-two-year-old Joe Ennesser loves […]

  • Sports

    In face of budget cuts, 39th Great Alaska Shootout will take place

    by Dave Goldman on Jun 24, 12:48

    An annual tradition will continue. The University of Alaska Anchorage announced the men’s and women’s fields this morning for the 39th GCI Great Alaska Shootout. With plummeting oil prices and subsequent budget problems, athletic director Keith Hackett has stated since February that everything “was on the table” to be cut including teams and/or the long-running […]

  • DayBreak

    Outdoor fashion finds to weather long summer days in Alaska

    by Sierra Starks on Jun 24, 10:51

    Summer in Alaska means it’s time to get outdoors — and look good doing it. With 19 hours of daylight, packing in as many activities as possible is high on Alaskans’ list this season, says Kari Skinner with Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall. Fashion finds for this time of year include outfits that can be worn all […]

  • Lifestyle

    Anchorage man says his rescue dog saved him from a charging moose

    by Daniella Rivera on Jun 24, 10:21

    Like any long-time Alaskan, Terrence Kasper has had more than a few run-ins with moose in his neighborhood throughout the years. But, if it wasn’t for his dog’s loyalty and bravery, he believes he may not have made it out of the last encounter alive. Kasper is a marathon runner and Ella, part black lab, […]

  • Sports

    Teams take off from Victoria for non-powered race to Alaska

    by Associated Press on Jun 24, 10:06

    After a short hop from Port Townsend to Victoria, British Columbia, 55 teams are on their way to Ketchikan, Alaska as part of the second Race to Alaska. The Peninsula Daily News reports that 58 teams left Port Townsend on Thursday morning in the qualifying leg of the race. Teams that made it to Victoria […]

  • Lifestyle

    The Hungry Chum: How one man creates a world inside a Greek cafe

    by The Hungry Chum on Jun 24, 9:07

    Sometimes a place isn’t so much about geography or what’s inside. Its significance lies in the people who are there. On one of the first warm days this spring, Blue Eyes and I rode our bikes in search of adventure and something yummy. We ended up not too far from our Midtown abode. Painted a […]

  • DayBreak

    Daybreak Adopt-a-Pet for June 24, 2016

    by Daybreak Staff on Jun 24, 9:00

      From Anchorage Animal Care and Control Dog: Chloe Introducing Chloe, a girl with an effervescent personality! Yes, you spot some gray hairs on Chloe’s muzzle but she believes that age is all in your mind. She is playful,energetic, and doesn’t waste time just lying around. Dog: Janie Are you looking for a dog who […]

  • Crime

    North Pole man pleads guilty to first-degree murder

    by Associated Press on Jun 24, 8:01

    A 42-year-old North Pole resident suspected of shooting an Anchorage man to death last year at a North Pole home has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Matthew Burton Davis entered the plea Thursday in Fairbanks Superior Court in the death of 34-year-old John Adam Chilcote. Chilcote was staying with a […]