Two Alaska-based soldiers killed in boating incidents

Foul play not suspected in unrelated accidents near Anchorage, Fairbanks

Posted: Tuesday, July 03, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Two Alaska-based soldiers died in separate boating incidents over the weekend, an official said Monday.

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The body of Pfc. Anthony Williams, 21, of Texarkana, Texas, was recovered Sunday from Chena Lake near Fairbanks, said Bob Hall, a spokesman for U.S. Army Alaska.

Spc. Cory Burgess, 23, of Ragley, La., drowned at Fort Richardson's Clunie Lake, near Anchorage, early Saturday, Hall said.

Williams, his wife and another soldier were in a medium-sized rowboat approximately 150 feet from shore when a wind gust blew Williams' hat into the water late Saturday, Hall said, citing police reports.

The other soldier jumped into the water to retrieve the hat. Williams stood up and lost his balance and fell into the water.

The soldier and Williams' wife attempted to save Williams but were not successful, and he went under, Hall said.

None was wearing a life jacket.

Alaska State Troopers are investigating the death, but foul play is not suspected.

Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said autopsy results indicate drowning appears to be the apparent cause of death.

"Alcohol was involved, but to what degree will be determined," she said.

Toxicology results will not be available for a month or longer, she said.

Williams was an infantryman with B Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment. Williams joined the Army in June 2006. He had been stationed at Fort Wainwright since October 2006.

In the other incident, Burgess drowned as he tried to swim to shore after the canoe he was fishing from capsized. Two other soldiers fishing with Burgess made it safely to shore, Hall said.

According to the initial military police reports, the three 164th Military Police Company soldiers were fishing at Clunie Lake early Saturday morning.

About 1:30 a.m., the three were dumped into the lake when their canoe flipped.

As the three swam to shore, Burgess became fatigued and went under, Hall said. The other two soldiers tried to rescue Burgess but were unable to save him. None was wearing a life jacket.

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