Alaska News

California woman dies when skiff and fishing boat collide in Southeast Alaska

A 73-year-old woman from California died Wednesday after a 58-foot fishing boat collided with a 20-foot skiff in the Wrangell Narrows, throwing her and another person into the water, the U.S. Coast Guard says.

An Alaska State Troopers spokesman on Friday identified the woman as Susan Paul.

Authorities said a mayday call reporting a person in the water came in before 9 a.m. Wednesday.

A good Samaritan rescued the other person in the skiff but Paul wasn’t immediately found, the Coast Guard said. A Petersburg search and rescue diver found her body inside the sunken boat after multiple hours of searching, they said.

The other person rescued from the collision was transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries and hypothermia, according to reporting by KFSK public radio in Petersburg. The Coast Guard is investigating.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision.

The Narrows is a 22-mile strait between Wrangell and Petersburg. Authorities said the search effort included Coast Guard Air Station Sitka and the Cutter Elderberry; search and rescue teams from Wrangell and Petersburg; troopers; and numerous good Samaritans.