Local News

Visitor makes 'explosive' find on Sitka beach

SITKA, ALASKA Meet Lynne Godfrey, who was just here on vacation from St. George, Utah.

“We hiked the Chilkoot, and decided to do some sightseeing in Alaska, so we went to Skagway, Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, and now we’re headed back.”

Godfrey – who loves to beachcomb – was wandering on John Brown’s Beach when she strayed a little too far afield at low tide.

“We had been there for about 30 minutes, just kind of wandering in and out of the rocks and close to the water, and taking photographs of the creatures that we found, and continued to walk toward the airport.”

Enter Daniel Hendricks, operations specialist first class with the United States Coast Guard.

Hendricks: “We got a report that there was somebody at the end of the runway taking photos. I went down and made contact with her and asked her how she got where she got.”

Godfrey and Hendricks gave separate interviews to KCAW about the incident. Here's the story through their eyes:

Godfrey: “So I asked him if he wanted to see some of the pictures that I had taken, so that he knew we weren’t there doing something, y’know, shady I guess you could say.”

Hendricks: “She had all these pictures of marine life, and oh, there’s couple of the helicopter sand the planes and stuff. And then, boom, it goes to this ordnance looking deal. And it was like, ‘Hey what is that,’ you know?”

Godfrey: “So he looked at the pictures and then I said, ‘Oh, yeah, we found this missile. Here’s a picture of it, it’s the coolest picture ever,’ and he goes, ‘You found a missile?’”

Hendricks: “And I was like, ‘Oh, where’d you find that at?’ and she pointed me in the area.”

Godfrey: “You could tell it was very old. There was a round rock lodged in the end of it, and it was colored with green algae, or green something. I don’t know what it was exactly. Moss, maybe? And the tip of the missile was buried in the rock. I thought it was nothing until I showed the pictures to the Coast Guard. ‘Look at this really cool picture I have.’ And then his eyes really lit up: ‘You found a what?!’”

Hendricks: “In my experience in the military if it looks like it goes boom, it might go boom. I didn’t let her come all the way to where it was at. I just had her take me toward the general direction. ‘How much further? Right there? OK, just stay here, just in case.’ You get to thinking, I wonder how long this has been here. Of course it’s whenever the tide was at the lowest is when it was observed. So when tide’s up, you wouldn’t even know it was there. It’s kind of all the way at the point to where most people don’t go.”

Godfrey: “You know I kind of felt bad the next day when I found out they had closed the beach. I felt bad that the entire beach was closed and nobody could go down there anymore. But honestly, I don’t think it’s anything. Well, it’ll be … who knows, it could be. Can you let me know?”

A Defense Department team is on the way to Sitka to take a look, and determine exactly what it is.
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