Fort Wainwright soldier dies when fishing boat flips on Klutina River

Michelle Theriault Boots

A Fort Wainwright soldier died Saturday after the jet boat he was fishing from on the Klutina River flipped, the Alaska State Troopers said.

Troopers identified the victim as Christopher Covington, 23, of Temple Hills, Md. Two other soldiers and an 11-year-old on the boat survived.

The four were fishing about eight miles upstream from the Klutina River boat launch Saturday morning. The area is upstream from Richardson Highway near Copper Center.

The jet boat, operated by Columbus Jones Jr., 39, had mechanical problems and flipped when it was pushed by a fast-moving current into a rock, troopers said.

Troopers said Jones Jr. and his 11-year-old son, Columbus Jones III, held on but were separated by the current. A fishing guide plucked the younger Jones from the water and took him to shore.

Jones Sr. and another passenger, identified as 23-year-old George Brady of Fort Wainwright, were also able to get out of the river.

Covington wasn't breathing when he was picked up by passengers on a jet boat downstream. Rescuers and Copper River EMS tried resuscitating him, but he was pronounced dead at the Cross Road Medical Center.

The boat was borrowed from Fort Wainwright's outdoor recreation program, troopers said.

Everyone in the boat was wearing a life jacket when it flipped, according to troopers. Alcohol is not thought to be a factor in the incident.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at or 257-4344.