Man presumed dead after boat accident

Tangled line in propeller caused boat to capsize 40 miles north of Sitka

Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2003

A Sitka man who disappeared Saturday night during a boating accident in Hoonah Sound was presumed dead by Sitka authorities Monday.

Jim Decker, part owner of J&J Mechanical in Sitka, disappeared beneath the waves near the west end of Peril Strait, a little more than 40 miles north of Sitka, police reported. His brother, Ken Decker Jr., of Bellingham, Wash., was found dead after the accident, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

Their father, Ken Decker Sr. of Montesano, Wash., and brother, Tim Decker of Blaine, Wash., survived and were spotted on the beach at Moser Island by a fishing vessel.

The Coast Guard reported the Deckers were in a skiff setting crab pots when a line became entangled in the boat's propeller, causing it to capsize.

Sitka Police Detective Ginny Moring said that during the last couple of years, the Deckers from Washington state had come to visit the Deckers in Sitka to get together and fish.

She said Jim Decker's disappearance "affected the whole community."

Moring said the search of the area was exhaustive before it was called off on Sunday. The Coast Guard conducted the search by air and boat, in addition to walking the shore and looking farther inland.

"We searched everywhere we could," she said.

She said there is a possibility Jim Decker became entangled in the line and was dragged down. Divers took part in the search, but where the boat capsized "is way too deep to dive," she said.

Moring said the water temperature was about 56 degrees Saturday night, cold enough to give anyone problems after a couple minutes.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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