Body pulled from water near Whittier Harbor

(Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)
Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 2:32 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After an unmanned 15-foot raft was found adrift near the Whittier Harbor, authorities located and identified the body of the operator as 61-year-old Eric Opland of Anchorage.

On Saturday around 10:13 p.m., the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center contacted Alaska State Troopers to assist the U.S. Coast Guard with a missing person investigation for Opland, who was said to be with a small raft near Whittier. The Whittier harbormaster was later alerted to the unmanned raft, located just outside of the harbor.

Opland was not near the raft and the Coast Guard deployed aircraft and watercraft to conduct a search, according to an online trooper dispatch. Around 8:41 a.m. on Sunday, a Coast Guard helicopter spotted a body, later identified as Opland, 3.4 miles northeast of Whittier.

An investigation found that Opland was not wearing a personal flotation device when his body was recovered. Troopers state that alcohol consumption may have contributed to his death, based on evidence found in the raft.

Opland’s body has since been transported to the state medical examiner’s office to undergo an autopsy.

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