A 25-year-old New Stuyahok woman found dead in a skiff Sunday is believed to have died from exposure or hypothermia, Alaska State Troopers said.
The small aluminum skiff was found Sunday along the Nushagak River in New Stuyahok with Rachel Alexandra Hanson dead inside, troopers wrote in an online statement.
Investigators believe her death was “caused by exposure/hypothermia after a round trip in a small aluminum skiff to Dillingham and back to New Stuyahok,” troopers wrote.
Dillingham is about 95 river miles from New Stuyahok on the Nushagak in Southwest Alaska. Hanson was in the 16-foot skiff with three other people but was not properly dressed for the weather on the return trip, which was cool and windy, said Austin McDaniel, a spokesman for the troopers. No injuries were reported by the others on board, he said.
It was not immediately clear what the purpose of the trip was or when the group initially departed.
The group arrived back in New Stuyahok around 3 a.m. Sunday, McDaniel said. Witnesses said they had been drinking and continued to drink near the boat on the beach after arriving, he said. Hanson and another member of the group had fallen asleep in different areas of the boat and the others went home, McDaniel said.
Hanson was later discovered dead by the owner of the boat, who had not been on the trip to Dillingham, McDaniel said.
“The owner notified the local health aide, who also responded and notified troopers,” he said.
Findings from the State Medical Examiner Office were consistent with investigators’ findings, troopers said.