One man died and another remained missing after their boat sank in bad weather on Prince William Sound on Wednesday evening near Whittier, Alaska State Troopers said.
The body of Stefan Weingarth, a 28-year-old Anchorage resident, was found Wednesday night, troopers said. Still missing as of Thursday afternoon was 28-year-old Dillingham resident Luki Akelkok III.
The men were returning to Whittier from a hunting trip on Esther Island with four deer and two seals in their 20-foot aluminum Lund skiff, troopers said in an online report posted Thursday afternoon. Two others in the group, in another boat, got back to Whittier around 3:30 p.m.
Weingarth, the boat’s passenger, called the other boat’s operator — who was already driving back to Anchorage — just before 6 p.m. Wednesday “to report the bow of their vessel was underwater, they were 5 minutes outside of Whittier, and they were sinking,” the troopers report said. Witnesses in the area described the weather as 6-foot seas, 40-knot winds and dark skies.
The U.S. Coast Guard immediately coordinated a search and rescue using a vessel and aircraft from Valdez, troopers said, but bad weather en route to the scene slowed their response.
Just before 10:15 p.m., Weingarth’s body was found wearing a life jacket, about 5 miles northeast of Whittier in Passage Canal near Trinity Point, troopers said. Akelkok was not found.
On Thursday, severe weather including 50- to 60-knot winds, continued in the area, troopers said. The search had expanded to include Alaska Wildlife Troopers and a Coast Guard cutter from Seward. A helicopter from Kodiak was expected to assist.
Strong winds and rough seas were making search efforts difficult, troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain said Thursday afternoon.