The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for an overdue helicopter piloted by the former head of Alaska’s largest tribal health care organization who resigned last week after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him.
Andy Teuber, Sugpiaq, former head of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, left Anchorage about 2 p.m. Tuesday in a black and white Robinson R66 helicopter, traveling to Kodiak Island, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
His flight disappeared an hour and a half later from tracking by air control. Family members reported three hours after his departure to the Coast Guard that he had not arrived in Kodiak, about 250 miles south of Anchorage.
Coast Guard Operation Unit Commander Jimmy Belcher, of the Anchorage Sector, said debris from Teuber’s helicopter was found late Tuesday near the Barren Islands, about 66 miles northeast of Kodiak, Teuber’s destination.
“So far, the only thing that's been located is a float that matches the float that was recorded on the helicopter. But as far as the helicopter and the pilot, they do remain missing,” Belcher said just before one o’clock Wednesday morning. The Coast Guard said Teuber was the only person on board.
On Wednesday morning, Coast Guard Petty Officer Lexie Preston said they could not yet “confirm that was that helicopter” and that the search was scheduled to resume.
Teuber, 52, abruptly resigned on Feb. 23 from the health care organization and as a member of the University of Alaska Board of Regents. At the time, no reason was given.
However, his former assistant described a pattern of abusive behavior, harassment and coerced sexual counters by Teuber in a three-page letter to consortium officials that was obtained by the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica. She resigned the same day.
“Andy unrelentingly coerced, forced, and required sex of me,” Savanah Evans said in the letter.
The Associated Press does not usually name victims of alleged sexual misconduct, but the Anchorage Daily News said she gave permission to use her name. Their story was published online Tuesday.
She claimed the abuse, much of which took place in consortium offices, derailed her personal and professional life.
In an email to the newspaper on Monday, Teuber denied Evans’ allegations, calling it a “completely consensual personal relationship.”
“The allegations of wrongdoing that I have been made aware of are false, and these allegations and their timing appear designed to portray me unjustly and falsely; to damage my personal and family relationships; but especially to sabotage my recent engagement and new marriage; and to undermine my professional prospects,” Teuber wrote.
Teuber led the consortium for over a decade and was paid more than $1 million per year.
The consortium is co-owner and manages the Alaska Native Medical Center, one of three hospitals in Anchorage. The health organization provides services to more than 170,000 Alaska Natives and employs more than 3,000 people.
The consortium said it will conduct its own independent, outside investigation.
Teuber owns Kodiak Helicopters. He is also president and CEO of the Kodiak Area Native Association, a nonprofit that provides health care and social services to the Koniag region, an archipelago in Southcentral Alaska. His annual pay reportedly from the association was $500,000.
The consortium board appointed CEO Garvin Federenko to be acting president, and elected Bernice Kaigelak, Inupiaq, of the Arctic Slope Native Association as board chair.
Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes are served by 17 regional tribal health organizations, which are represented on the board of the statewide consortium.
The consortium had $750 million in revenues in 2019 from federal and private (insurance) sources. It employs 3,000 people, and serves more than 180,000 Alaska Natives. It provides specialty medical care at the Anchorage-based Alaska Native Medical Center, environmental health and engineering services, and health promotion and disease prevention services. Teuber became the consortium’s board chairman in 2008.
Joaqlin Estus of Indian Country Today contributed to this report.