Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, December 02, 2005

Men rescued after falling into cold river

HAINES - A handheld radio saved at least one of three men who survived an icy plunge into the river north of Chilkat Lake Wednesday morning, said the state trooper who supervised the rescue mission.

The three Haines men - 71-year-old David Ward, 55-year-old Steve Brooks and 59-year-old Thomas Meismer - were in a skiff on the Tsirku River between the lake and the Haines Highway, Trooper Patrick McMullin explained. They were looking for a foot bridge that had washed away in heavy rains last week, he said.

The boat's engine quit shortly after they started it, McMullin said. "It probably iced up." The boat hit a tree hanging from a ledge and flipped the men into the river.

McMullin said the three, wearing flotation devices, crawled onto the bank and called for help on a VHF radio. McMullin responded along with the Klehini Valley and Haines fire departments. Rescuers borrowed a boat to cross the Tsirku and get them to the ambulance for the 30-mile drive to the Haines Clinic.

"It was touch-and-go there for a while," McMullin said. All three were released after being treated for hypothermia.

Two men dead from exposure in Mat-Su

ANCHORAGE - Two men were found frozen to death in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in subzero temperatures.

Alaska State Troopers say they suspect the victims had been drinking alcohol.

The first man was discovered about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday lying in snow outside his apartment behind the Roadside Inn off Mile 49 Parks Highway, said trooper Howard Peterson. Another tenant found his body, he said.

The man's name was not being released because next of kin had not been notified, Peterson said.

A few hours later, troopers received a second call and found Myrtis H. Gleason, 59, dead in a bus he lived in west of Wasilla.

The old bus was not insulated and was riddled with holes. A small electric heater did little to ward off the cold, Peterson said. The temperature inside was 13 below zero, troopers said.

State ferry delayed by boiler trouble

JUNEAU - The Alaska Marine Highway System announced that the state ferry Taku was delayed by boiler trouble in Ketchikan during its northbound sailing Thursday.

Workers at Alaska Ship and Drydock in Ketchikan were assessing the problem with the boiler, which provides heat and hot water throughout the ferry. Ferry system director Robin Taylor said he hopes the Taku will be back in service this afternoon.

Travelers with marine highway reservations should call (800) 642-0066 after 8:30 this morning for an update on the Taku's schedule.

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