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Coast Guard suspends search for mariner in the water near Juneau

Date: June 19, 2013
District 17 Public Affairs Detachment Kodiak

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard suspended the active search for a 25-year-old man who went overboard from the fishing vessel Swift near Porpoise Island 40 miles west of Juneau, late Tuesday night.

Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews, Station Juneau 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crews, the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty crew, National Park Service boat crews and Civil Air Patrol airplane crews conducted multiple searches totaling 34 hours between them and covering more than 450 square miles in the vicinity of the island and Icy Strait throughout the day.

“Suspending a case is one of the hardest decisions that we as search and rescuers have to make and our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” said Lt. Ryan Erickson, a search and rescue controller with Coast Guard Sector Juneau.

Alaska State Troopers and the SARDOGS have been called in to search the underwater area between the anchored vessel and the beach for the crewman.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau command center watchstanders received a relayed report of distress from the crew of the 57-foot Auke Bay-based fishing vessel Pacific Horizon just after midnight Tuesday. The Pacific Horizon crew had rendezvoused with the 34-foot Juneau-based Swift, found no one aboard and notified the Coast Guard prompting the search for the Swift’s crew.

A Station Juneau boat crew located the master, mildly hypothermic, near his overturned skiff on the beach Tuesday morning. He was hoisted by a Jayhawk helicopter crew and safely transported to emergency medical personnel in Juneau.

After his rescue, the master of the vessel reported the man had gone overboard without a life jacket and became distressed. The master launched his skiff to assist but saw no sign of the crewman, became distressed himself, and required Coast Guard assistance.

Weather on scene during the search was reportedly light winds, and calm seas becoming two-foot seas with a water temperature of 60 degrees in the morning dropping to 57 degrees Fahrenheit by evening.

The Coast Guard and Alaska State Troopers are collaborating and sharing information on the incident to track fishing vessel casualty circumstances and mitigate future occurrences.

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