Victim in Kodiak boating accident identified as part of Russian community

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Authorities on Sunday said a man who died in a capsized fishing boat off the island of Kodiak was a member of a Russian religious community that was still mourning the loss of five members in a fatal plane crash five weeks ago.

Guiorgui "George" Reutov died and deckhand Ifrem Chuprov Berestov, 23, was badly injured after a wave overturned Reutov's 38-foot fishing vessel in stormy seas, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The two men came from a Russian Old Believer community near Homer. Reutov was 41 years old.

The boat capsized about 200 yards offshore and washed onto rocks in the Mill Bay area north of Kodiak City, Coast Guard spokesman Richard Brahm said. The vessel reportedly drifted upside-down until it made landfall.

Rescuers used a chain saw to cut a hole the boat, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Kodiak harbormaster Marty Owen said he saw the boat leaving Kodiak on Saturday morning. Despite a blizzard warning, it was headed to Afognak Island, according to the Coast Guard.

"I was concerned because the Tustumena, the ferry boat, the 300-foot ferry boat, (was) sitting at the dock because it was too rough to go, and there goes this little Russian boat," he told the Anchorage Daily News.

In January, five followers of the Christian sect were killed along with their pilot when their small plane crashed as they returned to Homer to celebrate the Russian Orthodox Christmas. The group broke from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century and has been persecuted since.

Alaska's Old Believers live in several small communities on the Kenai Peninsula, about a four-hour drive from Anchorage. Most of them make a living by commercial fishing.

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