The call came from 58-year-old Kenneth Rupprecht and 45-year-old Jonathan Comfort, from South Carolina and Delaware respectively, who were in Alaska on a week-long self guided fishing trip. The callers remained in contact with the Petersburg Police Department for almost an hour awaiting rescue.
The men had been in a 18-foot skiff in Sumner Strait, north of the Level Islands when their craft capsized. The men related that they had PFDs but no survival suits.
Troopers relayed the incident to the U.S. Coast Guard who launched a MH-60 Jayhawk and a fixed-wing aircraft. Wildlife troopers from Petersburg and Wrangell took up the search along the shoreline. Wrangell Search and Rescue also responded along with good samaritan vessels.
That night, troopers located the capsized skiff but the occupants remained lost. The helicopter crew located a cooler from the vessel.
Then, at approximately 11 pm, the Jayhawk crew located the sport fishermen in the water. The helicopter crew directed troopers to the victims. Troopers arrived, plucked the two men from the waters near Douglas Bay on the south end of Kupreanof Island only to find that the two men had succumbed to the cold.
Neither man had life jackets on when found.
The remains of the two men were transported to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage for autopsy.