Boat was carrying donated groceries before fatal accident

Two bodies recovered in bay, search ongoing for a third passenger.

Anchorage Daily NewsSeptember 10, 2012 

The bodies of two men have been recovered after a boating accident in Goodnews Bay on Friday. The search for a third passenger on the boat continues.

Alaska State Troopers say Rick Ross, 57, and Sam Pavala, 49, were returning to Goodnews from Platinum with Angela Chingliak with groceries when they sank.

The bodies of Ross and Pavala were recovered and sent to the state medical examiner's office in Anchorage. As of Monday morning, the body of Chingliak had not been found. The two men were married to sisters of Chingliak.

"The three were bringing donated food from the Platinum fish processing plant," said Stephen O'Brien, a retired teacher who once had Pavala as a student. The Coastal Villages Seafood plant customarily distributes remaining food to residents of Platinum and Goodnews Bay when it closes down for the season, said Platinum health aide Mark Moyle, who was involved in the search.

From Goodnews Bay village at the head of the bay to Platinum on the south shore of the mouth of the bay is about 12 miles.

The three were traveling in a flat-bottom boat, about 20 feet long, with an inboard V-8, said Moyle. He said he did not think the boat was overloaded. But it was designed for river travel, with low sides, and could have swamped in a rough sea.

Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said conditions at the time included a strong west wind and an outgoing tide, which could have created rough water in the bay.

Moyle said that one of the men made a call to family on a cell phone as the boat was going down. A search party was launched from Platinum, Troopers said, and rescuers were guided to the site by a Yute Aviation pilot who spotted the bodies of the two men in the water. The victims were brought to Platinum and pronounced dead after efforts to resuscitate them were unsuccessful.

By noon Monday, Chingliak's body had not yet been found. Moyle had just returned home from checking out a possible sighting when he spoke with the Daily News. "It turned out to be nothing," he said.

Moyle was part of the party that located the sunken boat under 10 feet of water about four miles from Platinum.

"We can't conjecture on anything regarding why it sank until we raise the boat," he said, adding that would take time, the right equipment, luck and a low tide.

"Right now all the search and rescue efforts are going to find Angela," he said. "There's no dive gear here or in Bethel."

Peters confirmed that the boat had not yet been raised. "We are hoping that after it is recovered we may find some indication why it sank," she said.


Reach Mike Dunham at mdunham@adn.com or 257-4332.

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