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Rural Alaska

Three dead in boating accident on Kuskokwim River

Three Tuntutuliak residents died over the weekend in a boating accident on the Kuskokwim River, Alaska State Troopers said.

The bodies of Peter Joseph Jr., 50, Jennifer Joseph, 43, and Nettie Evan, 44, were recovered Sunday, troopers said.

The Josephs, who were married, were both affiliated with the K-12 school in Tuntutuliak: She was the cook at the Lewis Angapak Memorial School and he served as an advisory school board member, according to Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Daniel Walker.

Their three children attend the 140-student school, which had a social worker on hand Monday for students and teachers to talk to, Walker said. "It's a really hard day for them."

Jennifer Joseph told a family member by phone around 1:30 p.m. Saturday that they were on the Kuskokwim River between Napaskiak and Napakiak en route to Tuntutuliak, according to a troopers dispatch posted Monday.

That same day, a passing boater spotted the Josephs' boat stuck on a sandbar, troopers said. The boat — described as a black 20-foot Lund riverboat with an 85-horsepower motor — was empty and the boater couldn't get to it due to low water.

Someone notified troopers just before noon Sunday that a body had been found on the bank 3 miles upriver from the mouth of the Tuntutuliak River, troopers said. As troopers prepared to fly to Tuntutuliak, tribal police officers reported another two bodies found.

Dislodged by the tides, the boat was located Monday at Eek Island.

It appears the three may have been thrown from it when it hit the sandbar, a trooper spokeswoman said.

Alcohol containers were found floating in the debris field when the bodies were discovered, spokeswoman Megan Peters said Monday. A toxicology will be a part of the autopsies to determine if impairment was an issue.

Tuntutuliak is a village of about 400 people about 40 miles southwest of Bethel.

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