Two missing clam diggers found deceased

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak

USCG file photo

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Coast Guard rescue crews located the last two missing men deceased at 11 a.m. near the beach at Polly Creek Wednesday.

Coast Guard rescue crews responded Tuesday to a distress call from the Pacific Alaska Shellfish plant manager reporting a company-owned 20-foot aluminum skiff with five employees aboard went missing while transiting the area near Polly Creek where the men had been digging for clams.

An initial search conducted by Pacific Alaska Shellfish employees resulted in the discovery of one deceased male, wearing a lifejacket, with no sign of the other four employees.

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak-based MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew found two of the missing men at 6:05 p.m., 20 minutes after arriving on scene, and marked the position with flares to help a surface vessel locate and recover the remains. Both men were wearing lifejackets.

Wednesday morning, a Jayhawk helicopter crew located the remaining men within a mile of where the men were found Tuesday. The men were recovered by the helicopter crew and are being flown to Kenai for further transportation to Anchorage. Both men were not wearing lifejackets.

Kodiak-based Coast Guard rescue crews conducted five searches using four MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and one HC-130 Hercules aircraft covering more than 800-square miles. The Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island, a 110-foot patrol boat from Homer, had been in the area searching since 5:35 p.m. Tuesday. An Alaska State Trooper aircraft also searched the area Tuesday night.

The Coast Guard is working with the Alaska State Troopers to investigate the incident to better understand what happened and to help prevent any future incidents.

Weather conditions in the search area were clear skies, 10-15 mph winds and 2-foot waves. The water temperature is approximately 41 degrees.

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