Search Called Off For Woman Who Abandoned Child On Stampede Trail

Troopers, VPSOs, Rangers, Planes, Dogs, Helicopters, Drones, ATVs & Volunteers Have Found No New Leads  Update July 16, 2022:  After mul...

Troopers, VPSOs, Rangers, Planes, Dogs, Helicopters, Drones, ATVs & Volunteers Have Found No New Leads 

Update July 16, 2022: 

After multiple days of searching for 69-year-old Mary Wilson, the Alaska State Troopers are announcing a change in search strategy and tactics. Since her vehicle was originally located, dozens of professional and volunteer searchers have thoroughly searched the Stampede Trail and surrounding area for signs of Wilson. 

Since discovering her vehicle and clothing on the first day, no further clues or evidence have been located. Troopers, VPSOs, park rangers, military aerial assets, trained search and rescue dogs, helicopters, drones, ATVs, and more have put significant effort into the search during the active search period. 

Due to the lack of new search areas and no new discoveries of clues or information, beginning today, Troopers will change from an active search strategy to a reactive search strategy. If new clues, information, or evidence are reported to law enforcement, search efforts will be reevaluated at that time. At this time, there is no evidence of foul play associated with Wilson’s disappearance. If you have information that you have not reported to law enforcement about Wilson or her current location, please call the Alaska State Troopers at (907) 451-5100. 


Seven Alaska Search Organizations Enlist Local Volunteers. 

Grandmother Walked "Into The Wild" On Stampede Trail, Away From The Parks Highway, Troopers Say 


July 15, 2022, the search for Mary Wilson off the Stampede Trail near Healy is continuing. It is believed that on Tuesday July 12 when Mary’s vehicle became stuck, she began walking in a direction heading further away from the Parks Highway. Personal items believed to belong to Mary were located at approximately 7.8 mile of the Stampede Trail.

Village Public Safety Officers, members of Solstice Search Dogs, Mat-Su Search & Rescue, Alaska Wilderness Search & Rescue, Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, AST Helo 2, and volunteers are actively searching the surrounding area from the vehicle’s location.

Volunteers that would like to participate in the search should check-in at the Stampede Road staging area in Healy and anticipate inclement weather and insects.

Woman Leaves Her Grandchild In Car On Stampede Trail & Disappears 

Isolated Trail Near Denali Is Not An Actual "Road" 

Troopers are looking for Mary Dawn Wilson, a 69-year-old Kotzebue physician who is listed on internet searches through  Google as a counselor. Her 2-year-old grandchild was found on July 14th, in the middle of the night, locked in an abandoned car on the Stampede Trail near Healy,  just north of Denali. 

The car was 7 miles in on the trail. The Stampede Trail is at the end of the Stampede Road, which is off the Parks Highway. The trail was an old mining trail, and once led to the "Magic Bus" of "Into The Wild" fame, where Chris McCandless died. (The bus was identified as a community hazard, and has been removed by helicopter, and taken to Fairbanks, where it will be on display at the University of Alaska.) 

The Stampede Trail is not a road, but a well-worn, rutted route. In the past, when "the bus" was still there, the trail was a common, and dangerous, tourist attraction, with people walking in to the bus over the trail, crossing raging rivers.

Nowadays, the trail is mainly used by ATV adventure companies out of Denali. The Troopers did not say whether an ATV tour ran across the car.  Troopers said Mary Dawn Wilson was the last person seen with the child.  If you see Mary Dawn Wilson, or know anything about this incident, you can contact the Troopers anonymously (see below.) 

Mary Dawn Wilson (Alaska State Troopers) 

Location: Healy

Type: SAR - Missing Person

Dispatch Text:

On July 14, 2022 at 1:31 am, Alaska State Troopers received a report of an abandoned car approximately 6.8 miles on the Stampede Trail with a two year old child locked inside. 

From evidence at the scene it appears that the child and vehicle were abandoned two days earlier on July 12. The child was transported to Healy prior to being handed over to the Office Children’s Services in what appeared to be good health.  

Stampede Road Entering The Parks Highway. (Journal photo) 

Currently Troopers are conducting a search based around the vehicle’s location near Healy for the child’s grandmother, 69 year old Mary Dawn Wilson, who was the last known person with the child. 

If anyone has knowledge about the location of Mary Wilson, call the Alaska State Troopers in Fairbanks at: (907) 451-5100 or you can submit a tip anonymously through the AKTips smartphone app or online at

The Stampede Trail in summer. (Photo to the Country Journal) 


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