ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - National Park Service investigators have found a boat that capsized Monday in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, killing two men, but they have not determined what caused the accident.
The 27-foot boat was found in 25 feet of water near Strawberry Island, close to where the men and four others were fishing when it capsized, said Tom VandenBerg, a spokesman for the park.
Larry Roger McWilliams, 75, who carried an Oregon driver’s license, and his son, Gary Roger McWilliams, from California, were pulled from the cold water unconscious and could not be revived. Four other men were rescued, including one who swam to shore and signaled a passing boat for help.
The sunken boat was marked with a buoy and secured with a line to shore, VandenBerg said. The Park Service is making arrangements for it to be recovered.
“That may take a week or two,” he said. “That all goes through contracting.”
The boat had left Bartlett Cove, the site of the park headquarters 10 miles from Strawberry Island, to fish. VandenBerg did not know if the boat carried a radio, which could have alerted nearby boaters. At least some of the men were not wearing life preservers, VandenBerg said.
The Coast Guard is deferring to the Park Service for the investigation, said Petty Officer Meredith Manning in an email. “The Coast Guard will not be conducting an investigation because it happened in a national park,” she said.
Early reports Tuesday had said the boat was 21 feet long. A 27-foot recreational vessel would have been required to carry a life jacket for each person and four “throwable” devices for rescue, Manning said.
“As far as communication devices, a radio is not required but a sound signaling device and a visual distress signal should be aboard,” she said.
The boaters might not have been spotted if one of the men had not made it to shore to signal a passing boat, which alerted the Park Service, VandenBerg said Tuesday.
The agency and good Samaritan vessels rushed to the scene.
A charter boat operator rescued two people in the water and the person who swam to shore. A Park Service research vessel picked up a man who suffered severe hypothermia and was flown by Coast Guard helicopter to Juneau for treatment.
The crew of a tour vessel pulled the McWilliams’ from the water.
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