Haines teens die in canoe accident

19-year-old survived, called for help after hiking to nearby town

Posted: Friday, May 08, 2009

Two teenagers died Wednesday after their canoe capsized north of Haines while traveling to Skagway.

The bodies of Jared Todd Henderson, 19, and Alan Leroy Dennis, 17, both of Haines, were discovered on a beach on the east side of Lutak Inlet near the Ferry Terminal north of town around 8 p.m. Wednesday. The 16-foot canoe they were traveling in was found floating in the water.

Henderson, Dennis and 19-year-old Harley George Whittington left for Skagway around 10:30 a.m., according to Alaska State Troopers. Skagway is about 14 miles by water from Haines.

"About two hours into their trip their boat capsized and only one of them was able to get to shore," Troopers' spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Once Whittington made it to shore he could not see Henderson or Dennis.

"The youth was able to make it to shore and walk down a long distance down the shoreline until he got to a house at the end of the road system and called 911," said Haines Harbormaster Christian Racich, who responded to the scene.

He said the call first came in as a report of overdue boaters at about 6 p.m., just shortly before the 911 call was made by Whittington.

State Troopers, Skagway Police Department, Haines Volunteer Fire Department, Skagway Fire Department, Temsco Helicopters and the United States Coast Guard also responded.

"As the information materialized that's when we kind of focused our search and found the two victims on the east side of Lutak Inlet," Racich said.

There was a small-craft advisory for the area at the time because of high winds.

"It was blowing from the south yesterday pretty good ... probably blowing 20 knots or so, definitely not weather for a canoe let alone a small skiff," Racich said. "It was pretty bad weather. It's not really sheltered there."

"At the time they went into the water all of them were wearing life jackets," Peters said.

Haines has a population of about 2,400 people, according to the city's Web site.

"It's a small town and I'm sure there's a lot of grief (and) disbelief that there's such a senseless loss," Racich said.

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