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Rural Alaska

Body found near Bethel in Kuskokwim River

  • Author: Alex DeMarban
  • Updated: June 20, 2019
  • Published June 20, 2019

A body was found on Wednesday afternoon in Bethel, in the Kuskokwim River below the Crowley fuel dock, according to the Bethel Police Department.

The body was discovered at about 1:20 p.m. by boaters in the area, said Bethel Police Chief Burke Waldron.

“The remains are intact,” Waldron said. “It was found floating near the shoreline.”

The discovery came after more than a monthlong search of the river for Paul Kaganak, Waldron said. The 43-year-old man from Napaskiak is believed to have fallen into the water out of his skiff on May 18.

Waldron would not confirm the body was Kaganak. The remains have been transported to the state medical examiner for positive identification, he said.

“We believe we know who it is, and we have been in contact with the family,” Waldron said.

Kaganak had been drinking before falling into the water, according to witness accounts, Waldron said.

Late last month, during the search of the river bottom for Kaganak, members of Bethel Search and Rescue and volunteers discovered the remains of another missing man from the area, Waldron said.

Daniel Smith, 61, had not been seen since late October, according to KYUK radio station in Bethel.

A third person had also been missing for an extended period of time. Stacey Hoagland Jr., 28 and from Akiak, disappeared in September after he is believed to have been on the river in a boat that capsized.

Hoagland has not been found, said Mike Riley, with the search group.