Family, volunteers, search and rescue teams still looking for missing 78-year-old Juneau woman

Spirit Lodge Singers use a healing drum to offer songs and prayer for the safety of Geraldine Nelson as the search for her continues around Lemon Creek on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO).
The Spirit Lodge Singers use a healing drum to offer songs and prayer for the safety of Geraldine Nelson as the search for her continues around Lemon Creek on Wednesday in Juneau. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO).

After five days, there’s been no let-up in the search for Geraldine “Gerry” Nelson. The 78-year-old Juneau woman was last seen at her home in the Lemon Creek area on Sunday.

On Wednesday afternoon, Geraldine’s grandson Preston Nelson was searching the grass, brush and standing water just off Glacier Highway as traffic whizzed by.

“Some nights, we stay up all night. Other nights, we’re up until 1:30, 3 o’clock in the morning,” he said. “At this point, I’m searching every nook and cranny that I could find, and going through everything twice, three, four times and trying to get as much evidence or some sort of sign that she’s still around here somewhere.”

Preston Nelson said he has taken off work this week to search for her.

A Coast Guard helicopter hovers over Switzer Creek where the search continues for Geraldine Nelson on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)
A Coast Guard helicopter hovers over Switzer Creek where the search continues for Geraldine Nelson on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Volunteer searchers and family have been working with the Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska to coordinate a search. The tribe has been providing meals, equipment like flashlights and safety vests, and a staging area.

Juneau Police, Alaska State Troopers, Juneau Mountain Rescue and a Coast Guard helicopter have concentrated their search in and around Lemon Creek’s nearby woods and trails. Multiple teams with Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search (SEADOGS) also started searching early in the morning and continued well into the evening.

Geraldine Nelson
Geraldine Nelson (Photo courtesy of family)

Trooper Josh Bentz says they are assuming that Nelson is still walking around.

“We believe that she is mobile, which means that she could wander into an area that we just finished searching, right after we searched it. So, we’re researching some areas and we’re searching new areas that haven’t been touched yet,” Bentz said.

Geraldine Nelson, who also goes by Gerry, is an Alaska Native elder who is approximately 5′ 1″ and 125 pounds. She has shoulder-length hair and wears glasses. 

Juneau Police Department asks anyone who sees her to call them at 586-0600.

Matt Miller

Morning Host & Local News Reporter, KTOO

I’m up early every weekday morning pulling together all the news and information you need to start your day. I find the stories unique to Juneau or Southeast Alaska that may linger or become food-for-thought at the end of your day. What information do you need from me to give your day some context?

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