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UPDATE: Troopers release cause of fatal boating accident near Lisianski Point

One dead and another hospitalized after being thrown off a skiff near Lisianski Point.
One dead and another hospitalized after being thrown off a skiff near Lisianski Point.(KTUU)
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 12:09 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - UPDATE: The cause of the fatal boating incident was determined as a “catastrophic steering system failure,” according to a post on Alaska State Troopers Daily Dispatch.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers say the catastrophic steering failure caused the two people to be thrown into the water. Troopers later determined that one of the steering cables was found broken.

The report goes on to say Merculief died from hypothermia and drowning.

Original story: Alaska State Troopers said one man died and another man was hospitalized due to being thrown off a 17-foot skiff at the Starrigavin Boat Launch area near Lisianski Point Friday. Authorities identified the man who died as 41-year-old Theodosy Merculief.

In a Monday morning Facebook post, Sitka police said they got a call that the two men were pulled from the water at around 12:30 p.m. Friday. The other man rescued was identified as 43-year-old James Jensen. While calls came in about the rescue, police said the phones rang about a skiff spinning in uncontrollable circles at a high speed in the area of the boat launch.

Both individuals were reportedly wearing personal floatation devices at the time they were thrown from the skiff.

Police said good samaritans pulled the men from the water and took them back to the boat launch. Once on land, police said Jensen was conscious and responsive, while Merculief was unresponsive and CPR had to be performed.

Law enforcement said officers and EMS personnel arrived on the scene and took over CPR. Both males were transported to Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center. Merculief was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Alaska State Troopers issued a dispatch Monday morning stating Alaska Wildlife Troopers deployed an applied weather technology vessel at 1:22 p.m. Friday to retrieve the skiff. Troopers recovered the skiff and towed it to the Sitka Harbor, where it was subsequently secured as evidence.

Troopers will be conducting an investigation into the cause of the incident, which is unknown at this time.

Troopers updated their information saying Merculief was the only occupant wearing a PFD.

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