One dead, 10 safe after canoe overturns near Haines

Deceased identified as Las Vegas man

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. (Courtesy photo | Stephen Prysunka via the U.S. Coast Guard)

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. (Courtesy photo | Stephen Prysunka via the U.S. Coast Guard)

One man is dead after a canoe overturned near Haines on Monday, sending 11 people into the water near Glacier Point, according to an Alaska State Troopers dispatch.

Ten people were safe, according to a U.S. Coast Guard release, but one person was still in the water. The man, who was pronounced dead at 12:51 p.m., was later identified as 50-year-old Steven Todd Willis of North Las Vegas, according to Troopers.

Troopers received a report at about 10:39 a.m. Monday, according to the dispatch, that a canoe had overturned in the Davidson River Glacier near Glacier Point, about nine miles south of Haines.

Sector Juneau command center watchstanders received a report of an unconscious person in the water and dispatched a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to assist in the rescue, according to the Coast Guard release.

When the crew arrived, Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said, they found 10 people safe an uninjured on shore. A small boat from the excursion company was there, according to the release, but was unable to get to Willis due to deep water. The Jayhawk crew lowered a rescue swimmer into the water, who brought Willis to shore. Willis’ remains were then taken back to Juneau, according to the Troopers dispatch.

Willis’ next of kin was one of the other passengers, according to the Troopers dispatch.

The rest of the passengers, he said, were taken to Pyramid Harbor, about four miles southwest of Haines. The Troopers dispatch stated the waters were higher than normal. The water temperature was 57 degrees at the time, according to the release, with seven mile-per-hour winds and two-foot seas.

At about 4 p.m. Monday, AlaskaX Excursions sent out a press release saying one of its passengers died Monday when a canoe overturned on one of the company’s excursions. Representatives at AlaskaX, which is a tour company based out of Skagway that runs tours throughout Southeast including a canoe trip to Glacier Point, were not available for comment. Rios could not confirm it was the same incident, but said the Coast Guard only responded to one case of an overturned canoe Monday.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.