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KODIAK, Alaska – A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew rescued two overdue hunters near Wadleigh Island, in vicinity of Klawock, Alaska, Wednesday.
Both men were safely hoisted and then transported to Klawock emergency medical services personnel for further evaluation. Both were reported to have been in good condition upon transfer.
At approximately 2:08 a.m., Coast Guard Sector Juneau watchstanders received a report from Alaska State Troopers of a 17-foot skiff with two people aboard that were overdue from a hunting trip. The hunters reportedly departed at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday with plans to proceed to Salt Lake Bay for a hunting trip, with the expectation of returning to Klawock by 4:00 p.m. The hunting location was roughly 20 miles northwest of Klawock.
Upon confirming departure and non-arrival, ASTs conducted a search at approximately 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, covering Klawock to Warm Chuck Inlet with negative results. ASTs contacted Sector Juneau personnel early Wednesday morning to assist with the search.
In response, Sector Juneau personnel broadcasted an urgent marine information broadcast, launched an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Bailey Barco to assist in the search.
The helicopter crew also dropped a self-locating datum marker buoy in efforts to measure the surface ocean currents and assist with locating the missing men.
“We located a vessel matching the description of the overdue vessel in a small cove, at anchor,” said Lt. Michael Klakring, the co-pilot on the case.”Upon circling back to take another look, a flashing light was seen through night-vision goggles. One hunter had attempted to hike across the island unsuccessfully overnight. Both were located by flashing their lighters when the helicopter flew over. Thankfully, the Sector Juneau search plan covered this area and they had lighters. The importance of a float plan, signaling device, and personal locator beacon or GPS device cannot be overstated in the Alaskan environment, no matter how close or familiar an outing might be.”
Weather on scene was 29-mph winds gusting up to 35-mph, 4-foot seas and overcast skies with limited visibility.