Alaska News

Homer man rescued after he clung to a chunk of ice in Cook Inlet for almost an hour

A Homer man was rescued from an ice chunk Saturday after floating adrift for almost an hour in the frigid waters of Cook Inlet off Anchor Point.

When he was rescued about 300 yards offshore, Jamie Snedden, 45, “was submerged in the water with only his head and arms visible, as he clung to a large piece of ice,” according to a report from Alaska Wildlife Troopers. Snedden, who wasn’t wearing a personal flotation device, spent about 50 minutes in the 38-degree water, with the air temperature at 30 degrees, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Snedden was transported to a hospital in stable condition, treated for hypothermia and is expected to fully recover, officials said.

Several emergency agencies and a charter fishing boat teamed up to rescue Snedden. Alaska Wildlife Troopers responded to a report at about 11:11 a.m. on Feb. 26 near the Anchor Point tractor launch, according to Alaska Troopers Information Officer Tim DeSpain.

Snedden “was reported to have been walking along the shoreline on the ice when it broke free and drifted into Cook Inlet with the outgoing current,” DeSpain wrote in an email.

Trooper Jeremy Baum launched an inflatable raft to reach Snedden, while the U.S. Coast Guard launched a helicopter from Kodiak, according to Robert Mathis, deputy fire chief at Western Emergency Services.

A local fishing boat, Driftwood Charters’ vessel Misty, was approximately 3 miles away and responded as well, Mathis said.

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Baum and the Misty boat crew reached Snedden at about 11:47 a.m. and pulled him out of the water by 12:03, Mathis said.

After Snedden was pulled aboard, “he was observed to be conscious and breathing but very hypothermic,” DeSpain said.

Snedden was transported to Anchor Point Harbor, where responders with Western Emergency Services and Homer Volunteer Fire Department provided him with medical care.

By the time Snedden was brought to the South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, he had improved significantly, and he is expected to fully recover, Mathis said.

“Everything went the way it should have gone, and the fortunate thing was that there was a boat in the area that was willing to respond, which was huge,” Mathis said. “It was a bad situation that would have turned out significantly worse had it not been for the vessel Misty actually responding.”

The incident is a good reminder to the public to be aware of thinning and melting ice, Mathis said.

“We have been going through a period of much warmer weather,” Mathis said. “The ice is starting to melt, and it is starting to become treacherous, and if you don’t know the ice conditions, stay off the ice.”

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

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