Seven Plucked from Chilkat River Sandbar by USCG Chopper after Grounding

A U.S. Coast Guard MHH-60 Jayhawk helicopter stationed in Sitka traveled to the Chilkat River near mile 10 and plucked seven from a sandbar during the early morning hours on Sunday after they were called in by the Alaska State Troopers, AST reported on Sunday.

Troopers received notification at 9:45 pm on Saturday night that seven wet boaters were stranded on the sandbar after their boat had capsized. The  boaters, Gary Hinkle, age 30, Sierra Hinkle, age 29, Brittany Miller, age 24, Vincent Simkin, age 25, Caullen Taylor, age 24, Katie Torguson, age 30 and Joliena Wilson, age 22, were concerned over possible hypothermia as the temperatures dropped as night was setting in. They also reported that they did not have enough equipment to overnight at the location.

The USCG chopper departed Sitka and arrived at the scene at about a quarter of two in the morning and lifted all seven from the sandbar and transported them to Haines. After being assessed by medical personnel, all were released with no further medical attention.

“We were able to rapidly locate the group because they were carrying a device that allowed them to call for help and provide their exact location,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Plunkett, air craft commander for the case. “With air temperatures in the low 30s yesterday, this device likely saved their lives. This is a great example of how a sunny day in Alaska can quickly turn into survival situation. I’m thankful they were prepared and the conditions permitted us to help them out.”