Troopers, Coast Guard search for missing boater near Sitka; another confirmed deceased

A map showing Peril Strait in Southeast Alaska. (Map by Daniel Piscoya | Juneau Empire)

A map showing Peril Strait in Southeast Alaska. (Map by Daniel Piscoya | Juneau Empire)

Alaska State Troopers and Coast Guard personnel are searching for a missing man near Sitka after finding another man deceased on the shore on Baranof Island.

At about 8:25 a.m. Sunday, Juneau-based Alaska State Troopers picked up an emergency distress signal from a DeLorme inReach GPS device in the area of Peril Strait between Chicagof and Baranof Islands, according to a Troopers dispatch. Troopers notified the Coast Guard, which responded to the area.

Coast Guard responders found an 18-foot vessel that matched the description of the vessel in distress, according to a Coast Guard release, and a rescue swimmer was dropped into the area.

Searchers found a man, identified as 49-year-old Sitka man Sean Elliot, deceased on a beach in Goose Cove, according to the dispatch. Troopers have reason to believe Elliot was with another man, according to the dispatch, and the Troopers identified that man as 45-year-old Sitka resident Sean Poffenbarger. (A Coast Guard press release spelled his surname as Paffenbarger, and spokespeople from the Troopers and Coast Guard both stood by their different spellings.)

Petty Officer 1st Class Bill Colclough said it’s not yet known what exactly happened to the vessel, nor is it known what Elliot’s cause of death was.

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 helicopter crew, a Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Sitka boatcrew and an AST boatcrew are searching the shoreline along Peril Strait, according to the Coast Guard release. As of Sunday night, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick was also preparing to assist in the search, according to the release.

Colclough said Monday afternoon that search and rescue coordinators in Juneau were planning on making a decision Monday night of whether to continue the search. He said the search was continuing into late Monday afternoon.

The Troopers dispatch said Elliot’s next of kin have been notified, while they’re still working on notifying Poffenbarger’s next of kin. If anybody knows more about the vessel or the men, according to the Coast Guard release, they should call the Sector Juneau Command Center at 463-2980.



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



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