Troopers suspend search for missing boater near Sitka

A map showing Peril Strait in Southeast Alaska. Juneau is pictured in the top right corner. (Map by Daniel Piscoya | Juneau Empire)

After almost a week of searching, Alaska State Troopers called off the search for missing Sitka man Sean Poffenbarger on Saturday, according to a Troopers dispatch.

Poffenbarger, 45, had been missing since Sunday, April 1 after a device aboard a boat carrying him and 49-year-old Sitka man Sean Elliot had sent out a distress signal. Troopers, Coast Guard and the Sitka Fire Department responded to the distress signal, which came from Peril Strait near Sitka.

Responders found Elliot, deceased, on a beach in Goose Cove, about 32 miles north of Sitka. His next of kin were notified.

The Coast Guard assisted with the search until the night of Monday, April 2. According to a Coast Guard release, a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 helicopter crew, along with multiple boatcrews, searched a 77 square-mile area near the shoreline along Peril Strait for 35 hours.

Troopers and the Sitka Fire Department continued the search, using sonar technology to search the waters. According to the dispatch, it was difficult to get members of the Sitka Fire Department Dive Team into the water for a couple days, and when divers were able to get into the water, they weren’t able to find anything. Poffenbarger’s next of kin have been notified of the search being suspended, according to the release.

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