Okinawa-based civilian goes missing while skiing Japanese Alps
By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 21, 2017
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – A search is underway for a Navy civilian who went missing Monday while skiing the Japanese Alps at a Nagano winter resort.
Friends and family of Mathew Healy, a physicians assistant whose wife serves in the Air Force on Okinawa, posted a plea for donations via a GoFundMe site that by Tuesday evening had garnered more than $28,000 toward the search-and-rescue operation’s estimated $40,000 cost.
“Mat Healy, a wonderful father of two small children, has gone missing while skiing [Hakuba Happo-one Winter Resort] in Nagano Japan,” the GoFundMe page says. “Unlike in the US, the funding of search and rescue fall on the family of the missing individual. Please help us bring Mat home safe.”
U.S. Forces Japan did not immediately respond to messages asking about efforts to help with the search.
Healy’s wife, Brooke, told Stars and Stripes she last saw her husband at a ski-resort restaurant around lunchtime Monday.
“He’s a very good skier and likes back-country skiing,” she said.
Volunteers spent Tuesday searching around the ski area with no luck.
The Japanese Alps are a dangerous place for backcountry skiers, and there have been numerous reports in recent years of people becoming lost or caught in avalanches.
Locals reported 16 inches of snow at the resort on Monday and Tuesday. Temperatures on the mountain were due to drop to 14 degrees overnight, with a wind-chill of 3.2 degrees.
Sunshine and higher temperatures were expected Wednesday; however, the warmth could increase the risk of avalanches.
Heavy snow and rain has been predicted for Wednesday evening.