Crime & Courts

Halibut Cove restaurant owner faces federal charges over accusations she steered boat at plane

The owner of a well-known restaurant in Halibut Cove was indicted last week on federal charges accusing her of engaging in a dangerous interaction between a boat and floatplane last summer.

The incident Aug. 23 in the small community across Kachemak Bay from Homer was captured on video and has been widely circulated online. The footage shows a boat making extremely close passes in front of a float-equipped de Havilland Beaver DHC-2.

A federal grand jury indicted Marian Beck, owner of The Saltry Restaurant, on Jan. 19 on charges of attempted destruction of an aircraft and gross negligent operation of a vessel. Beck declined to comment on the case when reached by phone Thursday but said she did nothing wrong and has hired an attorney.

The plane’s pilot, Eric Lee, previously told the Anchorage Daily News that he was initially confused when the boat began making passes at his plane, appearing to come “straight at” him. Lee, who owns Alaska Ultimate Safaris out of Homer, said he was taking a group of people on a sightseeing tour of Katmai National Park and Preserve that day.

Lee told a reporter he flew into the west entrance of Halibut Cove, picked up passengers from the Stillpoint Lodge, and was taxiing back into the bay with seven passengers when the aluminum boat began making passes at the plane.

Lee, who could not be reached by phone Thursday, said at the time he did not know the woman driving the boat, which came within feet of the aircraft.

The indictment against Beck contains few details about the incident. It’s unclear what may have motivated her actions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt said Thursday he was not able to comment on the case.


Beck and her husband opened The Saltry in 1984. She is one of four children of the late Clem Tillion, a longtime, influential state legislator who died in 2021.

Beck is scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing next week.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at