Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, July 02, 2006

Coast Guard rescues two from Lituya Bay

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LITUYA BAY - A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka rescued a 51-year-old man and his 14-year-old son Saturday after their small plane made an emergency landing on a narrow beach near the entrance of Lituya Bay, south of the Yakutat.

An engine fire forced the plane down before 11 a.m. Saturday. An HH-60 helicopter rescued the two people at 12:45 p.m. and took them to Sitka for medical treatment, where they were reported in stable condition.

The Coast Guard identified the pilot as Steve Scruggs. His son was not identified. Both came from Warrenton, Ore. They were among a group of five planes flying from Seattle to Anchorage.

One of the other planes in the group was able to contact a passing Northwest Airlines jet about the emergency landing in a remote area of the Gulf of Alaska coast, the Coast Guard reported. That message was relayed to the Air Station Sitka.

17-year-old killed on Mendenhall Loop Road

JUNEAU - A 17-year-old girl was killed late Friday night when she was struck by a vehicle on the back of Mendenhall Loop Road, Juneau police reported.

Officers said Saturday afternoon they still could not release her name. She was reported hit by a vehicle shortly after 11:30 p.m. near Montana Creek Road, where a woman was killed in a two vehicle accident on a Friday night three weeks earlier. On June 9, 27-year-old Anne Shima was killed at Mendenhall Loop and Montana Creek roads.

Lt. Kris Sell reported Saturday morning that while the most recent fatality remains under investigation, evidence indicates the girl was sitting or laying in the roadway and may have been trying to get struck by a vehicle. Alcohol is considered to be a factor in the incident, she added.

A 24-year-old woman was driving the vehicle that struck the girl, according to police. She was not charged after the incident. She also was not identified.

Later Saturday, Sgt. Steve Christensen said the dead girl still could not be identified "due to certain factors in the investigation."

Steller sea lion research settlement reached

ANCHORAGE - A federal agency and an animal protection group have reached a settlement over research that most likely causes pain to endangered Steller sea lions.

The Humane Society of the United States had filed a lawsuit last year against the National Marine Fisheries Service to halt research techniques that included capturing the marine mammals, hot-branding them and taking tissue samples.

A court order last month had suspended all sea lion research until the agency completes an environmental impact statement.

The settlement, announced Friday, allows the continuation of more benign forms of research, such as population surveys by plane and boat, and observing the animals' behavior from a distance.

The Fisheries Service is still required under the agreement to do an environmental impact study before issuing permits for research techniques considered harmful to the animals.

"We have always supported legitimate research to benefit sea lions, and it is good to know we can put our differences aside and reach an agreement like this," Sharon Young, marine issues field director for the Humane Society, said in a statement.

Fisheries Service scientists have said their research techniques are not harming the overall Steller sea lion population and are necessary to understanding the animals' unexplained decline and how to help them recover.

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