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Location: Sitka
Type: Fatal Boating Accident

Dispatch Text:

Update 4/16: Alaska Wildlife Troopers have determined the cause of the fatal boating accident to be a catastrophic steering system failure that threw both occupants from the skiff into the water. One of the steering cables was found broken during an inspection after the skiff was taken out of the water. Based on a preliminary investigation by the medical examiner, Mr. Merculief’s death was caused by a combination of hypothermia and drowning.

Original: On Friday, April 9, 2021, at approximately 1230 hours, Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers in Sitka were notified of two individuals being thrown from a 17’ skiff in the area of the Starrigavan Boat Launch near Lisianski Point. Both individuals were transported to Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center, where one of the individuals, 41-year-old Sitka resident Theodosy Merculief, was declared deceased. Merculief was reportedly wearing a personal floatation device at the time they were thrown from the skiff.

At approximately 1322 hours, Alaska Wildlife Troopers deployed an AWT vessel to retrieve the skiff that was drifting freely. Troopers recovered the skiff and towed it to the Sitka Harbor, where it was subsequently secured as evidence. Wildlife Troopers will be conducting an investigation into the likely cause of the incident, which is unknown at this time.

*This release has been updated to reflect the fact that Mr. Merculief was the only occupant wearing a PFD. 

Posted on 4/12/2021 11:23:27 AM by DPS\ajmcdaniel

Posting Section: AK Wildlife Troopers