Tennessee man missing in Alaskan wilderness during hunting trip

His friends told the authorities he was going to check on caribou they had killed but then he never returned to the campsite.
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 8:02 PM CDT
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DEADHORSE, Alaska (WSMV) - A lifelong outdoorsman and hunter from Dover has been missing in the Alaskan wilderness for almost a week. Steve Keel is a former marine and well-known electrician in Stewart County.

Steve was in Northern Alaska on a hunting trip with a friend when he went missing. “My soulmate, my best friend, my husband of 38 years, is missing,” Liz Keel, Steve’s wife, said.

Steve was on a hunting trip with his friend, Brian Collins, in a remote part of Northern Alaska. Collins is from Erin, Tennessee. Liz said Collins told her Steve left their campsite Saturday morning around 10 a.m., their time to get food about a half-mile away, but never returned. “My biggest fear is that he is not living, that he is not coming home to us,” Liz said.

Collins waited more than 24 hours to report Steve missing. “He wasn’t really alarmed much at first because he thought Steve had got turned around, so then he went looking for him,” Collins’s wife, Molly, said. “You got to remember; they are way, way out. They are like 60 miles from the nearest town.”

WSMV 4 called the North Slope Burrough Police Department and search and rescue crew for the latest on the investigation but did not receive a response. We also called and emailed the mayor’s office, who responded to our inquiry late Friday and said, “when information is made available, it will be shared.”

Liz and Molly said local authorities have refused to do a ground search. So now, Steve’s two sons are in Alaska looking. “We want awareness up there because it is ridiculous that three people are searching on the ground,” Molly said. “This is the first foot search that has ever been conducted, and that is my husband, Brian, and Steve’s two sons.”

Steve’s return flight was scheduled for Saturday. Liz said she hoped he would come home soon. “I am not ready to accept that he is gone,” Liz said. “I just have to pray and hope and pray for a miracle. I won’t stop until somebody tells me different.”

Steve’s family set up a donation account for the search efforts at F&M Bank in Dover. Donations open Saturday.