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Samel was on a moose hunt in Denali National Park when they found McCandless. (AlbertoLoyo/Thinkstock)

“Into the Wild” Moose Hunter Killed

Man who found McCandless shot by police

News McCandless OutsideOnline

Gordon Samel, 52, was killed on Sunday in an officer-initiated shooting surrounding a drunk-driving incident in Wasilla, Alaska.

In 1992, Samel became a part of Alaskan folklore when he found the body of Christopher McCandless while on a moose hunt near Denali National Park and Preserve.

Samel was described as a passionate outdoorsman but also someone who had lived a troubled life. Late Sunday night, Samel was involved in a police chase after he was reported for drunk driving. Following a sustained pursuit, police units ultimately surrounded Samel as he sped toward an officer approaching on foot. The officer and another trooper opened fire on the pickup, killing Samel and injuring the other male passenger.

Samel had been under court orders to not drink after a DUI arrest in September, when he picked up two hitchhikers before crashing into a roadside ditch. Sunday night marked the end of a nearly 30-year criminal history for Samel.

In 1992, Samel was with a group of three moose hunters when they found McCandless almost three weeks after he died. According to Jon Krakauer, when the hunters arrived at the old Fairbanks city bus, a couple from Anchorage were already there but stayed back because of the stench and unsettling SOS note. It was Samel who eventually discovered McCandless in his sleeping bag.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: AlbertoLoyo/Thinkstock