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Into the Wild Bus Airlifted Out of the Wild

Bus where Christopher McCandless died no longer in the Alaska wilderness
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 19, 2020 1:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – An abandoned bus in the Alaska backcountry, popularized by the book Into the Wild and the movie of the same name, was removed Thursday, state officials said. The decision prioritizes public safety, Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige said. The bus has long attracted adventurers to an area without cellphone service and marked by unpredictable weather and at-times swollen rivers, the AP reports. Some have had to be rescued or have died. Christopher McCandless, the subject of the book and movie, died there in 1992. The rescue earlier this year of five Italian tourists and death last year of a woman from Belarus intensified calls from local officials for the bus, about 25 miles from the Parks Highway, to be removed. The Alaska Army National Guard moved the bus as part of a training mission “at no cost to the public or additional cost to the state,” Feige said.

The Alaska National Guard, in a release, said the bus was removed using a heavy-lift helicopter. The crew ensured the safety of a suitcase with sentimental value to the McCandless family, the release states. It doesn't describe that item further. Feige, in a release, said the bus will be kept in a secure location while her department weighs various options for what to do with it. McCandless, a 24-year-old from Virginia, was prevented from seeking help by the swollen banks of the Teklanika River. He died of starvation in the bus, and wrote in a journal about living in the long-abandoned Fairbanks city bus for 114 days, right up to his death. Jon Krakauer wrote the book on the incident in 1996, and Sean Penn directed the movie in 2007. The Department of Natural Resources said the 1940s-era bus had been used by a construction company to house employees during work on an access road in the area and was abandoned when the work was finished in 1961.

(Read more Into the Wild stories.)

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