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Alaska Beat

AK Beat: Child dies in Tununak, man barricades self into building

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published September 13, 2013

Child dies, man barricades self: Alaska State Troopers are interviewing a man about the death of a young child in Tununak, a village of more than 320 on Nelson Island in the Bering Sea. The child's death was reported just before 1 a.m. Friday, according to a trooper dispatch. When troopers went to the Southwest Alaska village to investigate the initial report, they learned of a man who had barricaded himself in a building, the dispatch says. Troopers apparently convinced him to come out, and they were talking to him later Friday about the child's death. There had been no charges filed in the case by Friday night.

Fort Greely missile defense under new command: Gone is the embattled commander of an Alaska missile base -- under investigation for what subordinates described as a sexually charged, "toxic environment" -- and now comes the installation of a new leader for the 49th Missile Defense Battalion: Lt. Col. Michael S. Hatfield. The Alaska Army National Guard announced the Wednesday change of command in a statement, Friday, that did not mention the name of the previous commander, Lt. Col. Joseph Miley, who, among other things, promoted a pinup-style calendar that featured his wife and female military personnel. The Guard has declined to discuss specifics of the allegations and said it and the Space and Missile Defense Command "aggressively investigated," as Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski demanded a more thorough probe. In its Friday statement, the Guard said Hatfield was the best candidate who applied for the job and that he started his military career as a combat medic in the Army in 1992.

Body found by moose hunter: A moose hunter found "badly decomposed" human remains Wednesday near the Susitna River, about 70 miles northwest of Glennallen at its confluence with Tyone Creek, according to Alaska State Troopers. A Glennallen trooper in a helicopter retrieved the remains Thursday, and a state medical examiner is trying is trying to verify the dead person's identity. Troopers think they know who it is, spokeswoman Megan Peters said. "We've been in contact with a family that we believe is the next of kin. We're waiting for positive identification, though, before we release a name," she said. Peters would not say if the person was a man or woman or identify where the family lived.

A dirty job: A man was arrested in Juneau earlier this week under suspicion of trafficking heroin worth more than $100,000 after officers recovered more than 100 grams of the drug from "several objects" that "passed through" the man's body, according to Juneau police. Police reported that they had received two tips, one in August and another on Sept. 10, that drugs may have been traveling between Las Vegas and Juneau, and on Tuesday detained 30-year-old Massachusetts resident Justin Elliott Yuhasz at the Juneau airport in the investigation. After determining through a medical examination that Yuhasz had foreign objects inside his body, officers said that they recovered the objects the next day after they passed through Yuhasz. The contents of the "objects" field-tested positive for heroin, police said. Yuhasz was being held without bail after his arrest on charges of misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Anchorage precipitation record tied (updated): Tying a nearly century-old record of 18 straight days of measurable precipitation, Anchorage weather watchers recorded more rain early Friday, the National Weather Service said on its Facebook page. From midnight on, it amounted to 0.19 inches, meteorologist David Kramer said. Not since 1919 has it rained so many days in a row in Alaska's largest city. As of late Friday, showers forecast for after midnight threatened to extend the streak, though Kramer said the rain might only fall in the mountains, not at the Weather Service's official measuring spot to the west in Sand Lake. Meantime, flood advisories earlier this week for much of Southcentral are no longer in effect, except for the Kenai River, which remained under advisory from Kenai Lake to Soldotna until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Polar bears chow down in Kaktovik: As they did last year in the remote northeastern Alaska community of Kaktovik, polar bears have congregated in the area to chow down on the remains of a whale. Flora Rexford on Friday posted a video to her Facebook page showing about 20 of the bears dining on leftovers of a cetacean not far from the Arctic community of about 240 people. That's fewer polar bears than the number that gathered at about the same time last year, a record 80 bears lured in by the scent of rotting whale meat left over from the local subsistence harvest.

Grant for Tlingit language study: There are between 200-500 known speakers of the Tlingit language, an Alaska Native language predominant across Southeast Alaska. Sealaska Heritage Institute has announced it is the recipient of a new grant worth nearly $500,000 from a program designed to preserve Native American languages, for a project to help pair would-be Tlingit speakers with mentors of the tongue. The goal is to increase the number of Tlingit speakers in Southeast Alaska over the next three years via the formalized student-mentor program. Learn more about the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

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