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Slammed by raging winds and blinding rain, a Coast Guard rescue crew struggled to maneuver a helicopter over the drowning fishermen.
In "Coming Back Alive," author Spike Walker gives a blow-by-blow account of the Coast Guard's dramatic mission to rescue the fishermen of the La Conte after their ship sank in a horrific storm in January 1998. Walker will be in Juneau on Friday and will talk about writing and "Coming Back Alive" at 7 p.m. at Hearthside Books in the Nugget Mall.
Walker spent more than 10 seasons working in the dangerous Bering Sea crab fishery, and his experiences formed the basis for his earlier books. Walker is the author of "Working on the Edge" and "Nights of Ice."
Walker spent hundreds of hours interviewing the survivors of the La Conte and members of the Sitka-based rescue crews.
Walker also devotes the first third of the book to several other Alaska rescue missions and to background on Coast Guard rescues.
Susan Hickey at Hearthside Books has hosted booksigning and presentations with Walker in the past. She said he is not one to read his work aloud or deliver scripted presentations.
"He's informal," she said. Walker is happy to answer questions and talk with folks interested in writing or any of his books.
Walker has been a logger and an oil field worker. He now writes full time and divides his time between Oregon, Washington and Kodiak.
"Coming Back Alive," subtitled "The True Story of the Most Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission ever Attempted on Alaska's High Seas," is published by St. Martin's Press and costs $24.95.