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Rural Alaska

Fatal boat collision near Bethel occurred on a blind turn in the river

  • Author: Tess Williams
  • Updated: July 15, 2020
  • Published July 14, 2020

A 5-year-old girl injured a boat collision Sunday near Bethel that killed her grandfather died Monday in an Anchorage hospital, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

David Berlin, a Bethel man identified in an online fundraiser as Berlin-Walker’s grandfather, was driving the boat and died at the scene.

He was steering an 18-foot, flat-bottom skiff upriver around a blind turn on the Johnson River, a tributary of the Kuskokwim River southwest of Bethel, troopers wrote in an online statement. A larger, 21-foot skiff driven by 45-year-old Dennis Demientieff of Kasigluk was headed downriver and approached the blind turn at the same time as Berlin’s boat.

Both Demientieff and Berlin steered to try to avoid each other, but they both turned in the same direction and the boats collided, troopers said.

A boater headed toward Bethel on the Kuskokwim River saw the wreckage around 3 p.m. and stopped to help, troopers said. In addition to Berlin and Berlin-Walker, two adults on Berlin’s boat had minor injuries, troopers said. None of the eight passengers aboard Demientieff’s boat were hurt.

The injured were transported to medical facilities; 5-year-old Danielle Berlin-Walker was taken to an Anchorage hospital, where she died Monday.

Troopers said the investigation into the collision is ongoing.

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