Troopers suspend search for missing Anchorage man who fell off a boat in Big Lake

Authorities search for a man on Monday, July 2, 2021 who went missing after falling off a boat...
Authorities search for a man on Monday, July 2, 2021 who went missing after falling off a boat on Big Lake on Sunday, July 4 in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska.(Rachel McPherron/Alaska's News Source)
Published: Jul. 4, 2021 at 12:11 PM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2021 at 11:10 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska State Troopers suspended their search Wednesday for the missing boater in Big Lake, according to Tim Despain, a spokesperson for the agency.

He added that the search will reconvene once troopers attain new leads. The family of 21-year-old Myles Williams of Anchorage has been notified.

The agency initially identified Williams on Monday in an updated online dispatch.

Troopers reported that just before 4 a.m. they were notified of a man who fell off the back of the boat and didn’t come up to the surface. Troopers go on to say in an online dispatch report that the operator and other occupants of the boat tried to find the man but they were unsuccessful.

That’s when the Matanuska-Susitna Borough EMS Dive Team, MAT+SAR Search & Rescue, and Alaska Dive Rescue went to the area to try and look for the man.

Troopers called off the search for the day around 5 p.m. on Sunday, and resumed at 8 a.m. on Monday using dive teams along with sector and side scan sonar to search an area near Burston Island, where Williams was last seen.

“They are scanning the waters in the area that we believe the person is missing using the sonar technology to try and find an image likely on the bottom of the lake surface, so that way they can then send a diver down to do the recovery,” AST Sgt. Ryan Anderson explained. “Big Lake, like most lakes in Alaska, has very bad visibility. It’s about 70 feet of water right here, so it’s dark as well, and they’re also being challenged with different geographic issues on the bottom of the lake such as shelves and different topographical issues. So trying to actually find the right thing on the sonar and then send in the divers can be very challenging.”

Williams was on the boat with a group of people aged 15-16, according to Anderson. It appears Williams was not wearing a life vest, Anderson said.

Anderson said the investigation has led troopers to believe occupants of the boat were drinking alcohol, but that the boat operator, a 16-year-old, was sober and passed field sobriety tests.

Due to the eyewitness accounts of Williams going under the water and the time he’s been missing, Anderson said Williams is presumed to have drowned.

At 5 p.m. Monday, troopers at the scene said rescue personnel would likely continue the search a few more hours and planned to return Tuesday if a recovery was not made.

“Unless new clues are located tonight, the recovery effort will continue tomorrow morning,” the dispatch states.

Anderson asked people on the lake to continue to avoid the search area and give rescue crews space to work safely.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information from an AST online dispatch and AST Public Information Officer Tim Despain.

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