Coast Guard attempts rescue of Sitka man

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Coast Guard attempted to rescue and resuscitate the 72-year-old owner of the 40-foot fishing vessel Illahee after he reportedly collapsed while aboard the vessel’s skiff 15 miles south of Sitka in the Dorothy Narrows around 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Ralph Guthrie, a Sitka resident, and his wife were reportedly seal hunting and were transferring a seal to the Illahee when he reportedly collapsed for unknown reasons aboard the skiff. The wife was able to call for help over the vessel’s VHF marine radio.

The Coast Guard received the mayday call and immediately launched an MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka. The rescue helicopter crew and an accompanying Coast Guard flight surgeon arrived at the Illahee at 12:25 p.m. where the rescue swimmer and flight surgeon were lowered from the helicopter to help Guthrie.

The rescue swimmer moved Guthrie and the skiff to a nearby beach where the flight surgeon and rescue swimmer were unsuccessful in their attempts to resuscitate Guthrie. The flight surgeon declared him deceased at that time.

The helicopter landed nearby where the rescue crew picked up Guthrie and his wife and transported them to Sitka where they were met by Sitka police. The Alaska State Troopers are investigating whether the Guthries were hunting seals legally.

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