Hoonah mourns drowning victim
HOONAH - Hoonah Police Chief Robert Beasley said though the investigation into a man's death Thursday is wrapping up, it will be a long time before the town can forget him.
George James Brouillette, 53, was found dead in Hoonah's harbor around 10 a.m. Thursday. He accidentally drowned, police said.
"The town is just really feeling the loss," said Beasley. "Everyone knew him. He was just always so nice and such a friendly guy."
Beasley said Brouillette was found when a man checked on his boat at the harbor Thursday morning.
"The fellow saw a plastic bag with beer cans in it lying on the dock near his boat," Beasley said. "He bent down to pick them up when he noticed a hand sticking out from under the dock. He hollered for the harbormaster, who was doing some cleanup on the beach, and they called the police."
Police determined Brouillette had been in the water for about nine hours before he was found. Beasley said Brouillette was last seen around 12:30 a.m. sitting with a friend on the dock drinking a beer. His friend went home. Beasley said police think Brouillette stood up, lost his balance and fell into the water.
"No foul play is suspected at all," Beasley said. "He had no signs of trauma. ... This is just a terrible, terrible accident."
Brouillette owned an excavator and a dump truck, Beasley said, and would do odd jobs. He said Brouillette had many family and friends in town as well as family in Haines, where he sometimes lived.
Police hunt for muggers
JUNEAU - Police are looking for three men who allegedly robbed a Canadian man Thursday evening in the Mendenhall Valley after striking him in the head, apparently with a rock.
The 25-year-old victim, whose name wasn't released, said he was attacked around 7 p.m. on a path in the area between the Nugget Mall and the Juneau Airport, police said today.
He was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital, where he received stitches for a 3-inch gash in his head. Police said he was released from the hospital Thursday night. The man, a resident of Carcross, Yukon Territory, told police the attackers came up from behind, struck him in the head and then grabbed his red Cache Creek backpack, police said. The muggers ran away with the bag, which contained clothing and money, police said.
The victim described one of the men as a Native man with a mustache in his early 20s, police said. He said the man was wearing a dark-colored sweatshirt, dark-colored baggy pants, and was carrying a dark-colored backpack.
Police are asking anyone with information about the crime to contact them at 586-0600.
Flaming flatbed sparks suspicion
JUNEAU - Police and fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire that incinerated the cab of a flatbed truck in Auke Bay on Thursday night.
Around 8 p.m. police and Capital City Fire and Rescue personnel were called to Statter Harbor parking lot, where the cab of a 1981 GMC flatbed pickup truck was engulfed in flames.
Two engines and 12 volunteer firefighters from the Auke Bay District and an ambulance from the Glacier District responded to the blaze. They put out the fire in minutes, police said. The truck was a total loss, said Capt. Jerry Godkin with CCFR.
No one was injured, Godkin said, and none of the nearby vehicles appeared to be damaged by heat.
Fire Marshal Randy Waters was unavailable for comment by the Empire's midday deadline.
Police Capt. Tom Porter said today evidence of an accelerant that may have been used to start the fire was found in the truck. An accelerant is anything used to start a fire, such as lighter fluid or gasoline, he said.
"Obviously investigators will be checking to see if these things came from the car itself, such as if there was a gas leak," said Porter. "But obviously it was suspicious enough that people on the scene thought it should be investigated."
Witnesses saw a white man in the area of the truck shortly before the fire, Porter said. Godkin said the truck had been in the lot for several hours before the fire started.
Motorists slip-slide into winter
JUNEAU - Vehicle crack-ups and rollovers dotted ditches and roadsides this morning as motorists discovered early winter black ice.
Police are urging morning commuters to drive cautiously despite the warm weather. They are attributing at least eight vehicle accidents today to the thin layer of ice that's often invisible to drivers. No injuries were reported, police Capt. Tom Porter said. One motorist had a friend take him to the hospital as a precaution.
"It's really deceptive," Porter said of the road surface. "I was by Twin Lakes this morning and it was very slippery, but when I went downtown it was completely dry and at least 6 to 8 degrees warmer there."
Accidents occurred near 17-mile and 18-mile of Glacier Highway, the 21000 block of Glacier Highway, Auke Rec, Auke Lake Road, Brotherhood Bridge and Vanderbilt Hill.
"People need to be aware that black ice is difficult to see and gets worse through the Valley and the further out the road you go," Porter said.
Alaskan confirmed dead in Bali
ANCHORAGE - Family members of a missing Alaska woman have received confirmation that she was killed in the bombing of a Bali night club last month.
Authorities in Bali have identified the remains of Megan Heffernan, 28, through dental records and physical descriptions, said Sandy MacKenzie, Heffernan's mother.
Heffernan grew up in Eagle River and graduated from Chugiak High School in 1992. She was working as an English teacher in South Korea when she and four friends decided to take a four-day vacation in Bali. She was among more than 180 people killed in the bombing of a nightclub Oct. 12.
Man charged with assaulting baby gets eight years
FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man charged with causing the near-suffocation of his 7-week-old daughter by sticking his fingers in her mouth last February will spend eight years in prison for that incident and two others.
Durwanzle Cooper, 27, was sentenced Wednesday to six years with two suspended on the charge relating to the assault of the baby; four years with two suspended on a charge relating to the assault of the mother; and three years with one year suspended on a check-forgery case. After prison, Cooper will have five years during which he could be sent back to jail for five years if he gets in trouble. The sentence, which was handed down by Judge Richard Savell, is the maximum jail time Cooper could have received under the plea agreement he reached in June.
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