Folsom adventurer, crewmates held in Russia after Bering Strait crossing

Published: Monday, Jul. 9, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2012 - 8:01 am

A Folsom man who is filming a reality TV show is being held with his crew in Russia, and his wife said it's not clear why.

Steven Moll is an adventurer who rides a Sea-Doo personal watercraft across open sea for a show called "Dangerous Waters" that he is producing and marketing.

He crossed the Bering Strait from Alaska with five other men, arriving in Russia on Friday. Once they reached the shoreline, a tank and armed guards greeted them, according to Moll's wife, Annette, who remains in regular contact with him.

"He sounds scared," she said. "I know he's trying to make us not so worried here because it's been such an emotional time. But I can tell he's kind of scared."

The Russian guards detained them in a gymlike area and took their paperwork, but let Steven Moll keep his cellphone, his wife said. The Russian government is saying there's a problem with their visas, Annette Moll said, adding that the group's visas are good.

"I have a hard time believing that that's the deal," she said.

Steven Moll last year rode a Sea-Doo personal watercraft 4,500 miles from Seattle to Russia in the first season of his reality TV series, which is being marketed to broadcasters internationally.

This time, Moll and crew members planned to travel from Alaska to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with a stop in Russia, Annette Moll said.

She said Sunday that she had not reported the incident to the U.S. State Department, since her husband hoped the Russian episode could be resolved amicably and the group could continue on its way.

Over the weekend, The Bee did call the State Department. Beth Gosselin, State Department spokeswoman, said Sunday that her office is looking into the matter.

The Russian encounter seemed to grow more tense over the weekend.

Moll said her husband told her he was waiting to appear before a judge today – Sunday California time – and that he faces formal prosecution and the likelihood of fines.

"Somebody told them a military ship would come and take them back across the (Bering) strait" to the United States after the court appearances, she said.

But that could thwart the group's ability to continue southward as planned. If they were to start the trip over, the crew members would have to cross the strait yet again, Annette Moll said.

As it is, she said, "We're five days behind schedule."

Other crew members are not able to contact their families. So Moll said she is trying to keep them updated. But it's difficult, she said, because of the uncertainties.

Moll said she has been trying to stay calm by keeping her four children – ages 8, 9, 15 and 18 – busy. She said she's praying a lot and has a strong support system.

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