State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2003

Construction worker dies from fall injuries

JUNEAU - Staff at the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Tuesday confirmed the death of longtime Juneau resident Darrell Larsen, 41, a carpenter with Trucano Construction.

Larsen fell on Monday morning while working on the site of a future gift shop on South Franklin Street, between Baranof Jewelers Alaska and Princess World Jewelers, said Alan Gould, a vice president of Trucano Construction. Larsen was transported to Harborview early Monday afternoon.

Representatives of Trucano Construction declined to elaborate on the circumstances of the fall.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the incident.

Juneau-Douglas picnic Sunday in Seattle

JUNEAU - The 61st annual gathering of expatriate Juneau and Douglas residents will be this weekend in Seattle.

What's called the Juneau-Douglas Picnic will be held about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Park Shelter No. 5 in West Seattle. Details are available through Barbara (Guertin) Nielsen, picnic coordinator, at or (425) 489-4065. Last year's gathering attracted about 300 people, and more often come.

The tradition was started in 1943 by a group of homesick war brides transplanted from Douglas, then a separate town, and Juneau to Seattle. It has continued since and last year moved to Lincoln Park.

Pilot had fuel truck waiting but didn't stop

ANCHORAGE - A pilot who reported running out of gas before crashing into Icy Strait had a fuel truck waiting for him in Ketchikan, but didn't stop.

The Cessna 401 with six people aboard "never showed up," for the fuel appointment in Ketchikan, said Clint Johnson, who is investigating the crash for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane, which had taken off from Port Angeles, Wash., earlier in the day, kept going and crashed into the ocean on Sunday night near Gustavus. The crash site was more than 200 miles northwest of Ketchikan.

The six men on board were from the Salt Lake City area. Two survived, swimming an estimated mile to shore. The Coast Guard and state troopers have called off the search for the other four men who were on the plane, including the pilot, Gary Ostler.

About 5 p.m. Sunday the pilot called up a Ketchikan aviation fuel company from Port Angeles, Wash., Johnson said.

He said he was about to take off from the airport in Port Angeles and wanted to arrange a 9 p.m. refueling in Ketchikan, Johnson said.

A Ketchikan employee of the fuel vendor, Aero Services Inc., said workers were puzzled when the plane did not show up or contact them with a change of plans.

"The only thing that I can think of is maybe he decided to stop somewhere else further down the line, or maybe he got lost and couldn't find it," said the employee, who would only identify himself as "Dave."

Johnson said during the trip Ostler also spoke to air traffic controllers about stopping in Petersburg. Johnson, who is leading the investigation of the crash, said he does not know why Ostler did not land in either town and instead kept going north.

To try to learn more, Johnson is collecting tapes of all communication the pilot had with air traffic controllers on the trip up from the Lower 48.

Rare tern spotted south of Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS - Bird lovers flocked to flats south of Fairbanks this week to view a rare visitor: a white-winged tern usually seen only in Asia and Europe.

A white-wing tern was first reported in Alaska on July 12, 1976. Twenty-seven years later to the day, on Saturday, bird watchers saw another. Its visit marked just the fourth recorded sighting in the state.

"That's the unusual thing about birds. They're so mobile, one can get caught in a storm or have its internal compass screwed up and show up anywhere it the world," said John Wright, a Department of Fish and Game biologist who viewed the bird.

Florida resident Jeff Bouton spotted the bird while on a trip to photograph more common birds with his 5-year-old son, Austin, who was celebrating his birthday. Bouton is a former employee of the Alaska Bird Observatory, a nonprofit group that focuses on the conservation of birds through research and education.

He called friends and word quickly spread that something special had landed at the ponds near the southern end of Lathrop and Cushman streets. The bird cooperated by remaining in sight as it fed on insects with Arctic terns.

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