Search for Alaska grandma halted after toddler found in car

Jul 18, 2022, 12:14 PM | Updated: 3:49 pm

This undated photo provided by the Alaska State Troopers shows Mary Dawn Wilson. Authorities are searching for Wilson, after her 2-year-old grandchild was found alone and abandoned for two days on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in a locked car on a rural Alaska road. The search for Wilson, 69, is being concentrated around the community of Healy, Alaska State Troopers said in an online statement. (Alaska State Troopers via AP)

(Alaska State Troopers via AP)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Officials have ended their search for a woman whose 2-year-old grandchild was found alone last week in a locked car that stuck in mud on a rural Alaska road, authorities said.

No clues to the whereabouts of Mary Dawn Wilson, 69, have emerged since her Ford Focus was found last Thursday with the child and personal items believed to belong to Wilson, the Alaska Department of Public Safety said in a statement on Saturday.

Authorities believe the child was alone in the car for two days.

The search was changed from “active” to “reactive,” meaning that a search could be launched again if officials receive new information or evidence, the statement said.

The statement added that at “this time, there is no evidence of foul play associated with Wilson’s disappearance.”

Wilson’s car was found Thursday on Stampede Road, off the Parks Highway just outside the small community of Healy. Officials believe her vehicle got stuck on Tuesday and that she started walking away from the highway instead of toward it.

The toddler was initially handed over to the state Office of Children’s Services and appeared to be in good health, officials have said.

The child was later reunited with their mother, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Wilson had been watching the child while the mother was working in rural Alaska.

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 at 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 or died. That prompted state officials to remove the bus from the backcountry in 2020.

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Search for Alaska grandma halted after toddler found in car