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Thanks to Juneau rescuers and supporters

Posted: September 16, 2012 - 12:07am

To the good citizens of Juneau Alaska, the family of Michael Ray Fullerton wishes to recognize: Chaplain Sam Dalin, Deacon Charles Rohrbacher, Dr. Marna Schwartz, MD, Paul and Diane Binder, Angela Fritz, Officer Sterling Salisbury, Special Agent Chris Hansen, Archie Hinman and the doctors and nurses of Bartlett Regional Hospital.

We hold those listed above in the highest esteem. In the hour of our grief, these individuals rose above and surpassed our expectations with great compassion.

We were in Juneau for our first stop of our family cruise for our grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. We decided to rent kayaks and experience the Mendenhall glacier up close. Jason Fullerton and I were in one kayak, Landon Fullerton and Ryan were in another, and Mike Fullerton (Dad) and Kate were in the last.

We had made it to the glacier and were on our way back to shore. Landon and Ryan went on ahead while Jason and I connected our kayak to Dad and Kate’s so we could help them row. Around the middle of the lake a wave hit us and capsized both kayaks.

All four of us were dumped into the icy water; Kate went under and was brought up by her life jacket. Dad and Jason stabilized the kayak so Kate and I could climb back on, which was difficult because we were all starting to lose feeling in our extremities. Dad and Jason attempted to climb on the other kayak, but could not get it stable. Jason got Dad a float and told him to keep kicking. Jason had lost his life jacket in the chaos, and after trying to drag Dad with him to the boat, finally climbed a large piece of ice in the water.

Meanwhile, the kayak Kate and I were in started sinking because of the amount of water in it. Landon heard us yelling for help from across the lake, and he and Ryan came back and pulled Kate out of the sinking kayak. I held onto the back of theirs while he paddled us to shore, where he left Ryan with us and went back for Jason and Dad. Landon went over to Dad, who grabbed onto the side of the kayak. They went over to Jason, and Landon and Jason tried to pull Dad onto the ice. He was alive, but starting to lose consciousness.

After several attempts, a tour boat came by and pulled all three on board. Dad went unconscious at that point from hypothermia. A few minutes later another boat rescued the kids and me and took us to the other side of the lake, where ambulances took all four of us to the hospital. Dad never regained consciousness.

We want you to know that our family is blessed. God, in his providence, allowed Dad to die in one of the most beautiful places on earth while on vacation with those he loved the most. His final act was to save Kate and me. He will forever be our hero. To God be the glory.

We will be forever grateful.

Robin Fullerton, The Fullerton Family

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