Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, May 29, 2006

Mother, daughter drown on Chena River

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FAIRBANKS - A woman and her 2-year-old daughter died after their boat capsized on the swollen Chena River.

Stacy Kaiser, 34, and daughter Hayden Kaiser were trapped under an 18-foot rented riverboat late Friday night and drowned.

Brent Kaiser, 32, was piloting the boat. He and children age 5, 9, 14 and 15 made it to shore without injury, said Fairbanks Police Department Lt. Jim Geier.

Four of the children in the boat were members of the Kaiser family. The 15-year-old was a family friend.

The riverboat was rented on Fort Wainwright, Geier said. The group had gone on a picnic and ate dessert at a waterfront restaurant, Geier said.

The Chena River is running fast and high, typical for late May because of runoff from breakup, said John Dragomir, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The accident occurred near the Carlson Center, Fairbanks' convention center west of downtown.

Police said Brent Kaiser apparently steered toward the river bank to avoid debris. The back of the boat lodged against the bank and took on water. The strong current flipped the boat, Geier said.

Nearby volleyball players responded to cries for help. They pulled the trapped mother and child from the water and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Climbers rescued from Mount Hunter

ANCHORAGE - Two Korean climbers were rescued on Saturday after spending more than a day stranded without food or shelter near the summit of the third-highest peak in Denali National Park, officials said Saturday.

Whang Cheung Sik and Hong Sung Hyun, both 35, were brought by helicopter to the Kahiltna base camp shared by climbers attempting Mount McKinley, Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter. Rescue efforts had been delayed because of severe winds.

The climbers were fatigued and dehydrated, park officials said, but both were in relatively good condition despite overnight exposure to high winds and overnight temperatures near 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

They had been climbing with a group that included three other climbers. The three were already waiting at base camp.

Park rangers spoke at least twice by radio with Whang, who communicated his position and condition through a translator. At 5 p.m. on Saturday, Whang said the winds had calmed enough for a rescue helicopter to land safely.

The men sheltered in crevasses to keep warm, said park spokesman Maureen McLaughlin.

The climbers became separated Friday evening as they neared the top of a technically challenging route known as "Deprivation," McLaughlin said.

Park officials, in their most recent statement, said it is unclear how they became separated.

Biologists hope move will keep young grizzly out of garbage

KENAI - State biologists tranquilized and moved a grizzly bear that had torn through garbage receptacles on the Kenai Peninsula.

The Department of Fish and Game had received several calls from Sterling reporting that the bear was rummaging through trash. It was darted near the Suzie's Cafe trash bin at about 7 p.m. Thursday.

"It kind of left a trail of destruction in its path," said wildlife technician Larry Lewis.

The bear had plenty of food in the area and had no reason to leave, Lewis said.

"It was definitely drawn to the area because of garbage issues," said state biologist Jeff Selinger. "It's a buffet table out there for bears when you have open containers or containers that are not bear resistant."

When Selinger and Lewis arrived, the bear was playing with a mattress, Selinger said.

"Rolling it around, chewing on it, putting its head on it ... (like) a teenager with a new toy," he said.

Biologists identified the bear by a tag the department placed in its ear after its mother was illegally shot near the Russian River in 2003. The female and her two brothers were orphaned.

More than $70 million going to Ketchikan Shipyard over 5 years

KETCHIKAN - The Ketchikan Shipyard will receive about $70 million from local, state and federal sources for improvements over the next five years, officials said.

The yard, where vessels are repaired, is expected to get a second shiplift and complete plans to expand the yard to its originally planned size over the next several years.

"They essentially only built half the (original) plan," said Ron Miller, Executive Director of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

Larry Gebhardt of the National Shipbuilding Research Program said he's analyzing how many employees will be needed for the expansion with the shipyard's operator, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Campus.

The shipyard also expects to start in September on construction of a 195-foot commuter ferry that would operate in Knik Arm. It hopes to deliver the ship to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in mid-2008, said Doug Ward, development manager of Alaska Ship & Drydock, which operates the shipyard.

The U.S. Navy is funding the project to test the ship's unique hull configuration design for military applications.

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