Rural Alaska

Fisherman dies when boat overturns near Unalaska

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: August 27
  • Published August 27

A 55-year-old man who was salmon fishing near Unalaska drowned Sunday afternoon when the boat he was in took on water and capsized, authorities said.

Officials described the incident as the first recreational boating death in the area in recent memory.

At about 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, David Long and a companion were gillnet fishing near Morris Cove, about 5 miles northeast of Unalaska, when they ran into problems with both their net and their boat, said Jennifer Shockley, deputy chief and acting director of the Unalaska Police Department.

Long's companion was able to swim to shore and walked for help. By the time the message reached public safety officials, it was about 4 p.m., Shockley said.

The accident was first reported by an off-duty Alaska state trooper. Unalaska police responded along with the Coast Guard and state public works officials.

Both men were wearing safety flotation devices, according to Shockley. She said it was a partly sunny day, with calm water conditions and a surface temperature of about 49 to 50 degrees.

Police are still investigating what caused the boat to capsize. Officers were gathering information on Monday, including a statement from the surviving boater, in hopes of piecing together what happened, Shockley said.

Longs' body is being sent to the medical examiner to determine a cause of death, Shockley said.

Long was a longtime employee with Unisea Inc., a seafood processing company in Dutch Harbor. He began working at Unisea in 2001 as a seafood processor, and was quickly promoted, said Chris Plaisance, the vice president of corporate affairs at Unisea. At the time of his death, Long was a supervisor overseeing inventory for the company.

"He was a real organized guy, did a great job for us for that many years," Plaisance said.

Long also loved to fish with friends, Plaisance said.

Shockley, who joined the public safety department in 1998, said she couldn't recall a recreational boating death in her time at the agency.

"That's one of the things that has come up around the community: 'Wow, I can't remember the last time this happened," Shockley said.