A Juneau man died last Saturday after falling off a float in Harris Harbor, police and harbor officials said.
David Little, 67, was found Feb. 2 when a harbor resident spotted him in the water, Deputy Harbormaster Matt Creswell said in an interview Friday. Little lived aboard the 40-foot yacht Quality Time in the harbor and was “a nice individual with a good attitude,” Creswell said.
Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell said Friday that JPD got a call at 10:17 a.m. Feb. 2 that a body had been found in the water. JPD and Capital City Fire/Rescue arrived on scene shortly afterward, and Creswell said he arrived just after that.
Creswell said he identified Little by looking at him, and he gave police contact information for next of kin. Campbell said they still haven’t been able to get in touch with Little’s family, though.
Police didn’t find any evidence of foul play or of suspicious injuries, Campbell said, but police do suspect Little was intoxicated. Nobody saw Little go into the water, but a witness said they saw Little visibly intoxicated at about 9 p.m. the previous night heading toward the harbor, Campbell said.
Friday night and Saturday morning were cold, and the dock was icy, Creswell said. He said it’s “very, very irregular” that someone falls into the water in Juneau harbors, because most boat owners are extremely aware of how dangerous the frigid water can be.
“Most people in Alaska and Juneau know that the water’s very cold,” Creswell said. “This time of year, it can result in immediate shock and hypothermia. The average person does everything they can to not fall in the water.”
Creswell said he heard that this isn’t the first time Little has fallen, and that Little apparently also fell in on Thanksgiving 2017. Campbell pointed out that it’s extremely difficult to get out of cold water after drinking.
“It can get icy down there, and somebody who’s intoxicated, especially when you’re very intoxicated, you go into the water and it’s icy cold, it’s going to be hard to pull yourself out of there,” Campbell said.
There are a few lessons to be learned, both Campbell and Creswell agreed. Being extremely intoxicated alone in icy conditions is dangerous, Campbell said, and Creswell advised people in the harbors to walk in the middle of the dock and wear a life jacket when they’re walking around.
Creswell said there’s no rush in determining the next move for the Quality Time, as the boat was well maintained and can stay where it is for a while.
“After the family’s had time to grieve,” Creswell said, “then we’ll figure out what to do with the vessel.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.