Eight days after the most extensive missing persons search in Alaska’s history was initiated, that search came to an unfortunate end early Sunday afternoon when Sawyer Cippola’s remains were discovered by two persons recreating on Pillar Mountain.
Troopers were notified of remains discovered in the Pillar Mountain area at approximately 12:30 pm on Sunday and state and wildlife troopers responded to the location and confirmed that the remains were those of the young boy. Troopers reported that there were no obvious signs of foul play but his remains were transported to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage for autopsy.
Troopers say that the investigation into Sawyer’s death is continuing. Sawyer’s next of kin were notified of the development.
More than 2,500 searchers combed the areas adjacent to Sawyer’s home for over a week. They were joined by 14 search and rescue dog teams from around the state.
Those searchers were supplemented by the US Coast Guard, Alaska Army National Guard, and private aircraft, which flew dozens of missions. Over 10,000 acres in the area were scoured for signs of Sawyer and his whereabouts. Navy SEALs also joined the search. Troopers say, “The US Navy SEALs provided 60 of their service members to conduct searches along the coast, sweep freshwater ponds, and traverse steep and difficult terrain throughout this weeklong search.”
The day prior to the discovery of Sawyer’s remains, authorities had announced that they were condensing their widespread search to a more, limited, reactive search.
In addition to the massive search, AST reported that “Specially trained law enforcement officers from the Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Bureau of Investigation, FBI, Anchorage Police Department, Kodiak Police Department, US Coast Guard Investigative Service, US Coast Guard Police, and Sand Point Police Department have been reviewing all of the facts surrounding Sawyer’s disappearance.” Dozens of interviews were carried out throughout the week and several residences in the area were searched for any signs of Sawyer. All of those actions failed to turn up any signs of a criminal element in the boy’s disappearance.