Coast Guard suspends search for Montana man in Togiak Bay

KODIAK, Alaska – The Coast Guard suspended the search Saturday at 5:20 p.m. for a 31-year-old fisherman, reported to have fallen overboard from the 28-foot fishing vessel Miss Colleen approximately one half mile off Anchor Point in Togiak Bay.

Benjamin Symmes, a Montana resident, was reportedly last seen aboard the ship between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Friday and was reported to have been wearing orange rain gear.

Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak crews conducted an HC-130 Hercules aircraft search and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter search totaling more than 16 hours of search time and covering more than 300 square miles. The Miss Colleen searched throughout the night and approximately 10 good Samaritan vessels also assisted in the search.

The Coast Guard 17th District Rescue Coordination Center in Juneau was notified of Symmes disappearance at approximately 9:46 p.m via VHF radio from the Miss Colleen Friday and issued an urgent marine information broadcast to request the assistance of any vessels in the area.

Crews from the Hercules and Jayhawk from Air Station Kodiak searched throughout Friday evening but did not locate Symmes. The Miss Colleen crew ended its search Friday evening.

The helicopter crew began its search Saturday at 7:59 a.m. and searched until about 2:26 p.m. The crew conducted a shore line search as well as the surrounding waters in hopes of locating Symmes.

Weather conditions in the search area Saturday were mostly cloudy with scattered showers, an air temperature of 55 degrees with southeast winds at about 10 mph and seas of about seven feet. The water temperature is approximately 50 degrees.

The Miss Colleen is a seiner and is homeported in Anacortes, Wash. A seiner primarily fishes for salmon and herring.

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  1. Vicki Frakes Johnson says:

    Thank you for your exhaustive search for Ben. He is the brother of our daughter in law Arrie and our son’s brother in law. Although we didn’t know him well, we heard of many wonderful things he did and was loved by so many people. He will be missed.
    thank you
    Vicki Johnson

  2. Tracy Speciale says:

    I just recently met Ben a few months before he left on his trip. Even though it was only a short amount of time that I knew him, I was devastated to hear the news. I keep praying that there are such things as guardian angels. That he will be found safe and sound. He was a sweetheart, even though he wouldn’t admit it. I will continue to hope…..I miss you Ben!

  3. Matthew Connors says:

    Ben was an awesome friend of mine. For the past two years we have been hunting buddies, and have been through a lot together. However I have only met his father once, and was hoping someone could clue me in on the memorial service! My # is 406 580 8347, email is I’m crushed!!

  4. susan zenier says:

    The memorial service will be on Sept. 26 in Whitefish Mt at the Grouse Mountain Lodge in the afternoon. I will send the details as they are confirmed.