Juneau family mourns drowned fisherman

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2002

Dustin Coby said all his father Jamie Coby ever wanted to do was sit with him on a boat with a line in the water. But Jamie, 38, was alone on his fishing boat early Thursday in Elfin Cove when he fell into the water and drowned.

"I just wish I had him back," said 10-year-old Dustin. "I just wish God would put him back on his boat and wouldn't have taken him off of it and into the water."

According to Alaska State Troopers, the Coast Guard was notified about 7:30 a.m. that the vessel Dustin Sea, named for Coby's son, ran aground near Elfin Cove with no one on board.

A Coast Guard helicopter and numerous private vessels searched for Coby, troopers said. Around 8:50 a.m. Coby's body was found floating near the entrance to Elfin Cove Harbor. Medics attempted CPR as Coby was airlifted to SEARHC/Mount Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka. Troopers said Coby was pronounced dead at 10:14 a.m.

Troopers said the boat was on autopilot, indicating Coby had been engaged in some activity on the rear deck of the vessel before he went overboard.

Coby was a charter fisherman. Coby's father-in-law, Larry Tong, said there wasn't a fisherman around Juneau who didn't know of Coby. He said he was loved by the fishing community and will be missed. Tong said that though his daughter Laura and Jamie Coby were divorced three years ago, he always would think of Jamie as a son-in-law.

Dustin Coby said he already misses his dad. Dustin said he and his dad regularly took fishing trips together during which his dad would catch and gut the fish while Dustin eagerly waited his turn to pack it with ice.

Dustin said he's already made a list of things from his dad's boat that he hopes to get when it is returned to Juneau.

"I want his Harry Chapin CD," Dustin said. "He sang that 'Cat's in the Cradle' song. My dad and I would listen to that. It was his favorite song. And I want his driver's license. So I can remember what he looks like. So I can remember him.

"My dad had blond hair and blue eyes. I know he was a good person with a good heart. I know he liked everyone and everyone liked him. ... I wish he was here ... I'd just like to ask for people to pray for him. I will be."

A memorial service is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at the Fisherman's Memorial near the Mount Roberts Tram downtown. The family is asking that donations go to a trust fund established for Dustin Coby through First Bank.

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