Coast Guard suspends search for missing boaters

Three safe, two missing after skiff capsizes in Gastineau Channel

A Coast Guard boat searches Gastineau Channel for two missing boaters on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (Angelo Saggiomo | Juneau Empire)

The Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday night for two missing men in Gastineau Channel after their skiff capsized Tuesday night.


The two men — 50-year-old James Cole and 48-year-old Sheridan “Scott” Stringer — have been missing since going overboard at around 9 p.m. Tuesday. Petty Officer Destin DiNapolis said that as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Coast Guard had covered 64 square nautical miles from the airport to the south end of Douglas Island. They had still not located either man, and at 6:14 p.m., the Coast Guard announced that it had suspended the search.

“It’s a very difficult decision to suspend a search,” Sector Juneau Commander Capt. Phil Thorne said in a release, “and we always make these decisions with care and consideration.”

Three others were on board the 10-foot skiff, including one other man who fell in the water and was rescued by the Coast Guard and two women who swam to shore on their own. Those three were taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital and were discharged in stable condition between 12:30 and 1 a.m., hospital spokesperson Katie Bausler said. A Coast Guard release said the three were treated for minor hypothermic conditions, and Bausler said it appeared the man had been in the water for between 10 and 30 minutes.

A dog named Hennessey was also recovered from the skiff. A representative from Animal Control said Wednesday that the dog is fine and was picked up by its owner Wednesday afternoon. The dog did not belong to anybody who was on the boat, according to Animal Control, but it didn’t appear that the dog was stolen.

The Coast Guard has deployed a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter crew, a smallboat crew from the Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick and a Coast Guard Station Juneau smallboat crew to search for the missing boaters. The Juneau Harbor Department, Alaska State Troopers, SEADOGS K-9 Search and Rescue Team, Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Juneau Police Department are also assisting in the search.

The search began with a 911 call at 9:02 p.m. Tuesday, Officer Thomas McGrann told the Empire at the scene. The caller was an Aurora Harbor patron who heard cries for help near the breakwater of the harbor, McGrann said. JPD and Capital City Fire/Rescue were no the scene for about an hour and a half, leaving the Coast Guard to take over operations of the search at about 10:40 p.m.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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