State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2002

Man missing from Norton Sound tugboat

KODIAK - The Coast Guard suspended the search Friday night for a crewman from Washington who apparently fell overboard from a tugboat in Norton Sound sometime Friday morning.

A Coast Guard C-130 airplane and crew from Kodiak and an Army National Guard helicopter crew from Nome searched for the missing man. The tugboat crew also searched along its previous course. Searchers found no sign of the missing man.

Officials said the man, who is from eastern Washington, had been aboard the Diane H tugboat a few days. The tugboat was on its way from Nome to St. Michael on the southeast corner of Norton Sound.

The man's name will not be released until relatives are notified.

The Coast Guard said winds were blowing at 30 mph and the tug was in 8-foot seas when the man was reported missing.

Sitka woman named head of Pioneers' Home

JUNEAU - A woman with deep roots in Sitka has been appointed to be administrator of the Sitka Pioneers' Home. Gov. Tony Knowles promoted Georgina Kacyon Dapcevich effective Aug. 31. She succeeds Julie Smith, who is retiring.

Dapcevich has been the Sitka Pioneers' Home social worker for the past five years.

Knowles said she will be the first administrator in Sitka who was born and raised in the community and of Tlingit heritage. Dapcevich and her six siblings grew up in Sitka. Her parents, three of her siblings and a large extended family of uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins live in the Sitka community.

Dapcevich has extensive social work experience. She has worked as an Indian child welfare worker with the Tanana Chiefs Conference, a school counselor for the Sitka Native Education Program, a tribal social worker for the Sitka Tribes of Alaska, and a child protection worker and field office supervisor in Anchorage, Bethel, and Sitka for the state Division of Family and Youth Services.

She will earn $62,000 annually.

Soldier indicted on attempted murder charge

FAIRBANKS - A Fort Wainwright soldier has been indicted on an attempted murder charge. Ezekiel Ayo Benson, 21, is accused of shooting a Chicago man in town last Saturday for his brother's wedding. He was indicted Wednesday.

Benson was originally charged with first-degree assault for shooting Shawn Albright, 28, in the parking lot outside the Greyhound Lounge. The bullet narrowly missed Albright's heart. He was hospitalized at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Fairbanks Police Detective Tara Tippett said the shooting resulted from a fight over spilled beer that started inside a bar.

Benson, who is from Birmingham, Ala., has been in Alaska for just over a year. He was charged in June with assault for allegedly grabbing a woman by the throat at a Fairbanks residence.

Benson is being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center on $50,000 bail.

Fire, explosion injure Prudhoe Bay worker

ANCHORAGE - An oil field worker was hospitalized with injuries after a powerful explosion and fire early Friday morning at a Prudhoe Bay oil well.

The well-site worker, whose name was not released, suffered burns to his face, hands and arms in the incident, which occurred at 2:10 a.m., said BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell.

The worker was taken to a clinic at Prudhoe Bay before being flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. He was to be flown later to the burn treatment unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Chappell said. No one else was injured in the incident.

The explosion blew out doors on the roof of the small, two-story metal industrial building that houses the well head, Chappell said. It also caused the walls of the building to bow outward. The fire burned for six hours before crews were able to put it out at about 8 a.m.

The incident occurred at a large complex known as "A" pad, a large gravel pad that contains about 36 producing and injecting wells. The site produces about 11,000 gallons of crude oil a day.

Fishermen look at healthy increase in crab quota

KODIAK - The state Department of Fish and Game announced an increased harvest guideline for Bristol Bay crabs on Friday.

The agency set its harvest guideline at just over 9 million pounds for the Bristol Bay red king fishery. That's up from the 7.15 million pound quota set last year. Fishermen almost met that quota, catching nearly 7.8 million pounds in 2001.

The 2002 National Marine Fisheries Service survey indicated an effective spawning biomass of 37.71 million pounds. Officials said that was a decline of 12 percent from last year.

But the estimate of mature males actually increased 13 percent with legal males up 3 percent.

Fish and Game set the guideline harvest level for this year at 8,575,202 pounds for the general fishery and 695,287 for the community development quota fishery.

The season begins Oct. 15. But there will be no fishing for St. Matthew blue king crab or Pribilof red and blue king crab this year.

The numbers are low for St. Matthew blue king crab of both sexes and all size categories, state officials said. Officials estimate there are 4.7 million pounds of mature crab, well below the 11 million-pound threshold needed to open a fishery.

In the Pribilof District, the blue king crab survey indicated there are 338,000 mature male crab. The minimum threshold for a fishery in 770,000.

The survey estimate of red king crab in the Pribilof District is approximately half the 2001 estimate. Officials feel this is not due to an actual decline but an overestimation of the 2001 stocks.

Woman dies in Gambell house fire

ANCHORAGE - An elderly woman died in a house fire in Gambell, Alaska State Troopers said Friday.

Anna K. Okhtokiyuk, 92, died in the fire. Two others were injured. Trooper said the victim's son, Wade Okhtokiyuk, 54, and his niece, Teresa Okhytokiyuk, 23, were treated in Nome for burns.

Wade was later taken to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage with burns to his upper body and head.

Okhtokiyuk said a smoke alarm woke him and he helped get everyone out of the house, except his mother who was bedridden. The niece's three children, ages 8 months 4 and 6, were also in the home but escaped unharmed.

The fire started inside a wall behind a refrigerator. It may have been caused by an electrical short, troopers said.

Oil-dumper sentenced to jail

ANCHORAGE - The captain of a freighter who helped cover up evidence of oil dumping from his ship was sentenced to three months in jail and two years of supervised release.

In sentencing Doo Hyun Kim last week, U.S. District Judge Russel Holland said Kim abused his power and, for that, he deserves jail time. Kim, 65, pleaded guilty to the charge in June.

"I'll make sure nothing like this will happen again," Kim told Holland.

Kim was captain of the M/V Khana when the U.S. Coast Guard found problems as it inspected the freighter in February while it was docked at Dutch Harbor. The Khana dumped at least 1,000 gallons of oil sludge at sea over a two-month period, often in the middle of the night, said assistant U.S. attorney Kevin Feldis.

Kim is the last of three ship officers recently sentenced for their roles in dumping oily waste at sea, prosecutors said. The Coast Guard is investigating activity on their vessels and two others. The four vessels, which ship frozen seafood between Asia and Alaska, carry the Panamanian flag and are under common management.

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