Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro crew members assist a survivor off a Coast Guard small boat in Glacier Bay National Park, July 15, 2018. Rough waters overturned four kayaks in Glacier Bay National Park, but the individuals made it to shore and activated their personal locator beacon, which assisted the Coast Guard in locating them. (U.S. Coast Guard | Courtesy Photo)

Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro crew members assist a survivor off a Coast Guard small boat in Glacier Bay National Park, July 15, 2018. Rough waters overturned four kayaks in Glacier Bay National Park, but the individuals made it to shore and activated their personal locator beacon, which assisted the Coast Guard in locating them. (U.S. Coast Guard | Courtesy Photo)

Four kayakers survive after boats overturn in Glacier Bay

Well prepared boaters safely make it to shore without injury

It was a busy weekend for Coast Guard personnel in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, as responders helped rescue two hikers and four kayakers in two separate situations.

On Saturday, according to a Coast Guard release, a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew helped the National Park Service pull two hikers safely up into the helicopter after one of the hikers suffered a leg injury. The hikers, according to the release, were taken to awaiting emergency medical services in Sitka. See a video of that rescue at the bottom of this article, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The next day, according to another Coast Guard release, Seventeenth Coast Guard District watchstanders got an alert that a personal locator beacon (PLB) had been activated in Glacier Bay. They quickly found that the beacon had been activated by a group of four kayakers after one of them had fallen into the water, according to the release.

The National Park Service took control of the search, Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer Lt. j.g. Nicholas Capuzzi said, but requested that the Coast Guard help them out. As a result, Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro and an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew assisted in the search, according to the release.

Searchers on the Douglas Munro spotted the kayakers, who were safe on shore and waving their arms for help. The quartet of kayakers and one kayak were taken aboard the vessel, according to the release, after the Coast Guard verified that the PLB activation did indeed come from that group.

The kayakers were evaluated for medical issues, according to the release, but they were all found to be in good health. They were taken to Juneau and arrived Monday, though Capuzzi said it wasn’t known whether they were from Juneau or elsewhere.

Capt. Kevin Riddle, the commanding officer of the Douglas Munro, said the timing was extremely fortuitous.

“At the time of the PLB alert, we were actively patrolling the area,” Riddle said in the release. “We are thankful that these kayakers were well equipped with an emergency transponder because it allowed us to quickly locate and rescue them.”

The fact that the cutter was even in the region was fortunate. The Douglas Munro is homeported in Kodiak, but is currently on a three-month patrol that will encompass the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean as part of Operation Arctic Shield 2018, as well as the Gulf of Alaska. Arctic Shield 2018, according to an earlier release from the Coast Guard, is meant to increase maritime awareness and understanding of the risks of the sea.

During Sunday’s rescue, weather in the area was reported as between five and seven mile-per-hour winds and seas between two and three feet, according to the Coast Guard.


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


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