Allen Kalmakoff, 66, survives incredible six days lost in Ivanof Bay

Sep 9, 2016

Troopers and volunteers from Perryville searched for missing man for days, finding him alive Monday about a half mile from his house.

One of the four residents of remote Ivanof Bay went missing last week. 66-year-old Allen Kalmakoff walked off late Tuesday, and couldn’t be found. Amazingly, after a lengthy search, he was found alive the following Monday. KDLG’s Dave Bendinger has more.

Audio transcript: Ivanof Bay is considered more or less abandoned, but the folks in nearby Perryville keep ties to and tabs on the four Kalmakoffs who still call the place home.

Allen Kalmakoff, who one of his brothers describes as a gentle 66-year-old who has never been the type to stay home for long, wandered away from the others last Tuesday. His family says he’s not the type to do a lot of drinking, but he may have been a little schnockered that day.

Wednesday came and went, and none of the Kalmakoffs in Ivanof Bay had seen their brother Allen. On Thursday, they put out the call for help. On Friday, half a dozen volunteers from Perryville skiffed over and scoured the area. On Saturday, weather allowed two troopers to make the lengthy flight down to the village. Ethan Norwood from Dillingham was one of those troopers, and says he had no idea how challenging Ivanof Bay would be to search.

"Because it’s abandoned," he said. "The whole village, whatever’s not covered in very thick alder brush, is covered with chest high fireweed and other grass, so you can’t see anything.”

Every abandoned building and every trail were checked and rechecked Friday, Saturday, and again Sunday.

The weather was foul. Kalmakoff had been missing a full five days. It was believed he was not dressed for the elements, had no food or provisions, and was of ill health. Optimism that he would be found alive was fading.

“He was not equipped for the weather. He was in poor health and had poor mobility, not able to walk without a cane, and needed seizure medication. So after that many days, it was starting to look kind of grim," said Norwood. "He was up against quite an insurmountable task of even surviving with all the bears and the wolves and the inclement weather."

On Monday searchers decided to try one more time, making use of improved weather to beat the bushes again looking for clues.

Miraculously, Norwood’s partner Sgt. Scott Quist from King Salmon found Kalmakoff about a half mile from his house, in the brush, lying face down, soaking wet and not looking too well.

“First thing he asked for was a cigarette, and then he just kept saying how appreciative he was that we’d found him," Norwood said. "He knew his family was missing him and that he wanted to get back and see them. He told us he was a man of faith, and that he never gave up.”

He was too weak to stand and had to be helped onto the four wheeler for the ride home.

Without his cane and just one shoe, Norwood said Kalmakoff had been crawling on his hands and knees to move around, and was bruised on his knees and elbows. The elder said he’d had at least one bear come dangerously close, and that he hadn’t had anything to eat. Kalmakoff was taken home and revived with food and tea.

His brother says he thinks a little too much alcohol may have led to Allen's wandering off. Troopers think Allen may have an elder moment, as he'd told them he had gone off to find the principal of the school that has been closed for years. Perhaps it was a combination of both. But last Monday there was only cause to celebrate after one quarter of the population of Ivanof Bay was back safe after an incredible 6 days lost alone outdoors in unforgiving country.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907.842.5281.