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Man drowns near Ekuk while trying to swim to shore from disabled boat

Tegan Hanlon

A 43-year-old man from Dillingham died after he jumped from his boat Friday off the coast of the village of Ekuk, said Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers said Galacia Hiratsuka had been at a fish camp in the small community about 17 miles south of Dillingham. While out on the water Friday evening, his boat’s motor failed, Megan Peters, a troopers spokesperson, wrote in an email.

“He raised the anchor in an attempt to have his boat drift to shore,” Peters wrote. “When his boat drifted away instead, he attempted to swim.”

Hiratsuka was not wearing a life jacket, troopers said.

Lloyd O’Connor, who was staying at the fish camp, called troopers stationed in Dillingham around 11 p.m. and reported the apparent drowning. People at the fish camp organized a search but could not find Hiratsuka “due to darkness and outgoing tide,” troopers said.

The group reconvened in the morning, and Hiratsuka’s body was found near a dock. The body was sent to a hospital in Dillingham and then to the State’s Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage.

Troopers do not suspect foul play and say alcohol was a factor.