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Douglas resident and former Alaska House Speaker Hugh Malone, 57, died Thursday when he was knocked down by a wave on a rocky beach and apparently struck his head while vacationing near Genoa, Italy, his sister said today.
Initial reports that he had been involved in a boating accident were inaccurate, said Malone's sister, Rosie Murphy. Murphy spoke Thursday with Malone's wife, Deb Vogt, who was with her husband when the accident occurred. Vogt is still in Italy.
"They had gone for a walk and gone to a beach near Riomaggiore," a small fishing village on the west coast of Italy, Murphy said. "They were standing on rocks, looking around, she said the next thing they knew their feet were wet. The next thing they were hit by another wave and knocked down. She got up, she pulled him up, but he must have hit his head. He was in the water just for second, that's my understanding from what Deborah said."
Murphy guessed her brother probably hit his head, but Vogt did not say. She said it was unlikely he could've drowned, since Vogt pulled him from the water immediately. Vogt said they were on a rocky slope above the waterline, and there were no warnings posted to indicate any potential hazards.
Murphy understood Vogt was uninjured.
"She's doing all right. She's coping, she's a tough lady," Murphy said. "She said yesterday the embassy was helping her with the paperwork. She doesn't know when she'll get out of there. I guess she'll be home in a couple of days."
Murphy, who lives in Anchorage, flew to Juneau on Thursday. She said she believed the accident occurred late Thursday afternoon near a Mediterranean fishing village between Genoa and Pisa. Italy is 11 hours later than Juneau.
"It happened March 8 in Italy, and probably March 8 here too, I can't tell you specifically," she said. "My impression was it was late afternoon. They were walking and stopped for a bite to eat at a restaurant, then continued."
She said arrangements for services for Malone will be made upon Vogt's return. The couple left Juneau about Feb. 22 and visited Vogt's family in California before they flew to Italy on March 1.
Other family members were unavailable for comment this morning.
Malone was speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives in 1977-78 and spent 12 years representing the Kenai Peninsula as a Democrat. He served as revenue commissioner under Gov. Steve Cowper in the late 1980s.
Malone was born Jan. 22, 1944, in Catskill, N.Y. He came to Alaska in 1958. He was a land surveyor for the Alaska National Guard for six years, and served on the Kenai City Council and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly before being elected to the Legislature in 1972. He apparently moved to Juneau about the time he was appointed revenue commissioner.
In recent years, he did some consulting work and represented fishermen at the Capitol but was semi-retired, according to friends. He was prominent as a citizen activist in the recent flight-noise mediation issue.
Malone is survived by three children, Alanna and Rory of Juneau, and Shevaun of Colorado. Their mother and Malone's first wife, Christine, is deceased.