Former state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch disappeared during a boating trip in Auke Bay on Sunday evening, provoking a U.S. Coast Guard search that continued through the night.
The former Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and member of the House Finance Committee was last seen at about 5 p.m. Sunday after leaving his son at his house in Auke Bay. Weyhrauch, 54, then proceeded to Auke Bay Harbor for mooring, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
At 6:30 p.m., the vessel Navigator reported finding an abandoned pleasure craft adrift about one mile southeast of the Auke Bay ferry terminal. The 14-foot skiff still had its engine running, Lt. Chris Williammee said. The boat was later identified as Weyhrauch's.
Coast Guard units planned to search for Weyhrauch through the night. The search involved the Coast Guard Cutter Mustang, a rescue helicopter from Air Station Sitka, a patrol boat from Station Juneau and a Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel.
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A man who answered the phone at Weyhrauch's house Sunday night said the family had no comment.
Weyhrauch, a Juneau attorney, has been active in Alaska and Juneau politics for many years. He served two terms in the House after being elected in 2002. Among other efforts and interests, he served on the Juneau Port Authority Committee and was president of the Alaska Commercial Fisherman's Memorial in Juneau.
Weyhrauch had come under scrutiny in 2006 when federal agents raided his office and that of at least five other Alaska lawmakers in a search for ties to an oil field services company.
He did not run for re-election in 2006, telling the Juneau Empire, "I didn't sign on to this job as a career. I think people should do what they can within the system and then get out and let others have a chance."
His seat was taken by Rep. Andrea Doll, D-Juneau.
Married with three children, Weyhrauch has lived in Southeast Alaska for about 30 years, including stints in Sitka, Angoon and the last 20 years in Juneau.
Ken Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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