Body of Alaskan adventurer returned home to Elkhorn

By Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Nov. 22, 2006, 10:38 a.m.)

Doug Betts was an adventurer.

He once biked from Utah to Texas, across the Gulf Coast to Florida's panhandle, then back north to Michigan's Upper Peninsula before returning to his home in Elkhorn.

But his passion for adventure and the extraordinary may have cost him his life.

Betts disappeared Sept. 14, 2005, while hiking the rugged terrain of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska near the city of Homer. His remains were found Sept. 30 along the beach of Kachemak Bay.

Finding the body has brought closure to the family, and a celebration of life last week wrote the final chapter in remembering his life, Jim said.

Betts had traveled to Alaska on a whim, his father, Jim, said. Doug stayed in a cabin on a small organic farm. His work paid the rent.

On Sept. 14, he told the owners he was going for a hike along the shoreline of Kachemak Bay. He never was seen alive again.

Doug was 33.

His parents, Jim and Judy, last heard from Doug on Sept. 11, when he called home to wish his mother a happy birthday. He was supposed to return home Sept. 17, Jim said.

"He had a plane ticket ready to come back home," Jim said.
Search teams scoured the area where Doug might have hiked but turned up few clues.

Authorities thought he might have gotten trapped between the waters of the bay and the soaring cliffs. They surmised he was washed out to sea when the tides rolled in.

Doug knew how to survive in the wilderness, but after a week or 10 days family members began to lose hope.

It appears Doug was swept out to sea and drowned. His remains were found along the beach of Kachemak Bay by two college geology students, Jim said. Dental records confirmed it was Doug.

"He was a good guy. He never had any enemies. Everybody liked him," his father said. "We still think about him all the time."



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