Coast Guard, good Samaritans search for overdue boater near Whittier, Alaska

Coast Guard Cutter Mustang file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg

Coast Guard Cutter Mustang file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Coast Guard and good Samaritans are searching for a 16-foot red skiff with one person aboard reported overdue Saturday in Passage Canal near Whittier.

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, a Coast Guard Station Valdez small boatcrew and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mustang are on scene searching.

The crews of the good Samaritan vessels Qayaq Chief and tug Krystalsea began searching as the Coast Guard issued an urgent marine information broadcast. The crew of the Krystalsea spotted signs of debris this afternoon on the north side of the canal and found an ice chest possibly belonging to the owner of the overdue vessel.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders received initial notification Saturday afternoon from the Whittier harbor master of the possible overdue boater. The vessel reportedly made a trip to tend crab pots just north of Whittier and normally returns before approximately 1 p.m.

“We are saturating an 8 square-mile search area in Passage Canal and Whittier Harbor with multiple boat and helicopter crews,” said Cory Cichoracki, command duty officer for Sector Anchorage. “The Qayaq Chief was the first to notice something was wrong and brought the situation to the attention of the harbor master. They were on scene searching before we even completed gathering information. Our good Samaritan partners are essential in helping us locate the missing boater.”

Weather on scene is of 34-mph winds and 3-foot seas with 10 miles visibility.

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