Rural Alaska

Man found dead at base of cliff near Unalaska

A man whose body was found Monday near Unalaska apparently died in a fall, according to police in the Aleutian Islands city.

A statement from Unalaska's Department of Public Safety said Gregg Kortesma, 45, was discovered in the Ruth Rock Creek area near town.

"Kortesma's body was found in the creek on Sept. 12 by a pair of local hikers, who immediately reported the discovery to police," officials wrote. "Significant head injuries were readily apparent and Kortesma was pronounced dead at the scene."

Michael Holman, the department's director, said Thursday that Kortesma's family had been notified, and his body was sent to the State Medical Examiner Office for an autopsy to determine exactly how he died. Based on the scene, however, police believe Kortesma fell to his death in the creek near the head of Captains Bay.

"He was at the base of a real steep cliff," Holman said. "Where he was located and the type of injuries are consistent with a fall."

Kortesma was originally from Wisconsin, Holman said, but frequented Petersburg in Southeast Alaska as well as Unalaska. He was well-known to local police after spending time in Unalaska over the course of two decades.

"We've had contact with him over the years for a number of different things," Holman said.

Kortesma was arrested by Juneau police on a felony assault charge in August 2014, after police said he pointed a rifle at a woman near the Nugget Mall. Court records show the charge was dismissed last year, after Kortesma was found incompetent to stand trial.

In Unalaska, Kortesma had been held on December felony charges of theft and issuing a bad check but pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in July.

More recently, however, Kortesma had worked aboard the fishing vessel Alaska Trojan and was seeking government employment.

"He had applied with the city for a job on the 4th of September," Holman said. "It was a powerhouse operator position."

Holman said investigators know Kortesma was in town last week but are still trying to learn more about his final days. Anyone who saw him over the weekend is asked to call the department at 907-581-1233.