State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2001

Entangled whale freed

JUNEAU - A humpback whale tangled in a crab pot line in Hoonah Sound for about a day was freed during the late afternoon on Tuesday by National Marine Fisheries Service personnel and the crew of the fishing vessel Provider.

The 30-foot whale, which wildlife biologist Kaja Brix estimated to be between 1.5 and 2 years old, snagged the line connecting the crab pot to the surface in its baleen.

"The line was wedged in ... kind of like dental floss," Brix said.

The whale was able to come to the surface and breathe, but the line trapped it in the 300-foot waters between Moser Island and Emmons Island. The crew of the Provider contacted the NMFS on Monday afternoon, but plane delays kept biologists from reaching the scene until Tuesday. Rescue efforts began at about 8 a.m. and the whale was freed by 3:30, despite its persistent avoidance of attempts to cut the line.

The NMFS has received three other reports of trapped whales in Southeast this summer, Brix said.

Overdue hunters found

JUNEAU - A large bear and a balky engine delayed two hunters Tuesday, but all ended well early Wednesday morning, Alaska State Troopers said.

John McCluskey, 34, and Marty Thomas, 38, both of Angoon, went hunting on Hood Bay Mountain on Tuesday. When they did not return, they were reported missing. Troopers mobilized a search-and-rescue effort at about 10:55 p.m., said Greg Wilkinson, trooper spokesman. Chief Jeff Daniels of the Angoon Police Department also was involved in the search.

"What happened was that they shot a large bear, and it took them longer than anticipated to cut it up. They were located shortly after midnight at their 18-foot Fiberglas skiff, where they were having engine troubles," Wilkinson said.

Worker killed in logging accident

ANCHORAGE - A U.S. Forest Service worker died after being struck by a tree in a logging camp near Ketchikan, Alaska State Troopers said Wednesday.

Devin Fox, 30, of Ketchikan, was struck as the tree was being logged Tuesday in Shelter Cove, according to trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson. He said it's unclear what Fox was doing in the area at the time.

Fox was medevaced to Ketchikan General Hospital, where he died, Wilkinson said. The Forest Service is investigating the mishap. Wilkinson said no foul play is suspected.


Family searches for missing child

JUNEAU - A local family is asking the community to help locate a missing teen-ager.

Hollie Toland, 15, was last heard from July 28 when she phoned her mother from a friend's house saying she was going to take the bus home and would be late, family members said. Toland never arrived at home and has not been heard from or seen since. Family members said she has run away from home before, but has always called in.

The 5-foot-4-inch teen weighed 125 pounds at the time of her disappearance. She has brown eyes and shoulder-length dark blond hair that she may have dyed a lighter shade.

Any information on Toland's whereabouts should be called in to police at 586-0600. Police officials could not be reached for additional information on the case this morning.

Exxon capt. ends community work

ANCHORAGE - The former skipper of the tanker Exxon Valdez has completed his community service work in Alaska as part of his sentence for the 1989 oil spill in Prince William Sound.

Joseph Hazelwood served 1,000 hours at Beans Cafe, an Anchorage soup kitchen serving the city's homeless. It took him three years to complete the service, averaging 10 hours a day, seven days a week during the months of June and July.

Hazelwood was in charge of the tanker Exxon Valdez when it drove onto a charted reef in Prince William Sound and spilled 11 million gallons of Alaska crude oil.

After completing the community service July 18, Hazelwood returned to New York.

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