Sad news out of Alaska yesterday, as the Coast Guard announced it was suspending the active search for a 25-year-old man who went overboard from the Juneau-based F/V Swift near Porpoise Island, 40 miles west of Juneau, late Monday night.
Crewman Alan Young, 25, of Chehalis, Wash., was last seen when he entered the water from the anchored 34-foot vessel and attempted to swim to the beach without wearing a personal flotation device, according to an Alaska State Troopers news release.
Young became distressed in the water, prompting skipper Tim Lane, 47, of Sitka, to launch his skiff to assist Young, but to no avail. According to the State Troopers report, Lane, who was wearing a PFD, also ended up in the water, floating there for several hours. A Coast Guard Station Juneau boat crew located Lane, who was mildly hypothermic, the Coast Guard says, near his overturned skiff on the beach Tuesday morning. A Jayhawk helicopter hoisted Lane aboard and transported him to Juneau for treatment by emergency medical personnel. Coast Guard Petty Officer David Mosely snapped the photo at left of a Jayhawk helicopter participating in a search and rescue demonstration at Base Ketchikan.
The crew of the 57-foot Auke Bay-based Pacific Horizon had come across the Swift, but when they found no one aboard, they notified the Coast Guard just after midnight Tuesday, the Coast Guard says, kicking the search and rescue operation into gear.
The State Troopers in cooperation with the Coast Guard, National Park Service Glacier Bay, the U.S. Forest Service, the Hoonah Police Department and volunteers from SEADOGS participated in the search for Young. The search effort included numerous patrol vessels, aircraft, search and rescue canines, underwater cameras, and divers.
Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews, Station Juneau 45-foot Response boat-Medium crews, the cutter Liberty, National Park Service boat crews and Civil Air Patrol plane crews conducted multiple searches covering more than 450 square miles in the vicinity of Porpoise Island and Icy Strait throughout the day before the active search was suspended, the Coast Guard says.
“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, in a Coast Guard news release.
While the active search has been called off, the missing persons investigation remains open, according to the State Troopers.