A troller fishes in Sitka Sound on Feb. 2, 2021. A charter fishing vessel sank in the area Sunday, resulting in one person dead and four missing. The U.S. Coast Guard called off a search for the missing persons Monday night. (James Poulson / Daily Sitka Sentinel)

A troller fishes in Sitka Sound on Feb. 2, 2021. A charter fishing vessel sank in the area Sunday, resulting in one person dead and four missing. The U.S. Coast Guard called off a search for the missing persons Monday night. (James Poulson / Daily Sitka Sentinel)

1 dead, 4 missing after fishing charter boat sinks near Sitka

Coast Guard calls off search Monday night after company reports vessel overdue Sunday.

One person is dead and a search has been suspended for four other people missing after a charter fishing boat sank in Sitka Sound, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Tuesday.

Kingfisher Charters reported the vessel was overdue to the Coast Guard on Sunday. The boat was carrying four passengers and one guide when it sank, according to the Coast Guard. A portion of the bow of the partially submerged 30-foot aluminum boat was located by a search helicopter 10 miles southwest of Sitka near Low Island, and a body was recovered from the water nearby.

Rescue crews searched a total of approximately 825 square miles over the course of more than 20 hours utilizing both air and vessel search crews, according to a Coast Guard statement. The search was called off at about 9:30 p.m. Monday and did not resume Tuesday morning. Participating in the search were Coast Guard helicopters and vessels, the Sitka Fire Department and several privately owned boats.

“Despite our best efforts and those of several partner agencies, we were not able to find the four remaining individuals, ” said Capt. Darwin Jensen, captain of the Port Southeast Alaska. “Suspending a search is never an easy decision. We extend our deepest sympathy to the loved ones during this difficult time. Our sincere thanks to community partners and the good Samaritan vessels who rapidly responded to help in the search.”

The identity of the people aboard the boat were not released as of Tuesday morning and the cause of the accident remains under investigation, according to the Coast Guard statement.

The Sitka Fire department officials told the Daily Sitka Sentinel the department’s search and rescue and dive teams were unable to deploy until first light Monday because of the lateness of the hour Sunday, six-foot seas and high winds in the search area.

The vessel was last seen anchored at a regular fishing spot between 1 and 2 p.m. near Cape Edgecumbe, about 10 miles southwest of Sitka. Anyone with information is asked to contact Coast Guard Sector Juneau at (907) 463-2980.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306 .

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