2 Alaska visitors dead after skiff capsizes in Southeast

Tegan Hanlon

Alaska State Troopers say two men were found dead after their skiff capsized in Southeast Alaska waters Sunday.

Jonathan Comfort, of Delaware, and Kenneth Rupprecht, of South Carolina, had taken an 18-foot skiff out near Petersburg. Shortly before 5:30 p.m., Comfort called 911 to say their skiff had sunk about 22 miles south of Petersburg near Level Island, said Beth Ipsen, a troopers spokeswoman.

Comfort, 45, told dispatch that he and Rupprecht, 58, were attempting to swim to Level Island. Neither of the men wore a life jacket, Ipsen said.

"The area where they were believed to be boating and fishing has pretty strong currents," she said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, a search-and-rescue team out of Wrangell and wildlife troopers responded and searched for the men. At 10 p.m., their bodies were found by a Coast Guard helicopter near Douglas Bay on the south end of Kupreanof Island, troopers said.

Ipsen said Comfort and Rupprecht had been staying at the Island Point Lodge in Petersburg on Sunday.

"They've done similar trips like this in the past together, where they've come up to an area lodge, they've rented a boat that they'll take out twice a day for a week," Ipsen said. "They'll go out in the morning, come back for lunch and then go out in the evening and fish for halibut again."

Troopers said the bodies of Comfort and Rupprecht will be taken to the State Medical Examiner's Office for autopsies.

By Tegan Hanlon