Local News

Ammonia leak victim was longtime fisherman

Charles "Chuck" Baker, left, died Tuesday after an ammonia leak aboard his vessel in Sitka the day before. His wife, Reona, credits their grandson Steven, pictured at right, with helping get others away from the ammonia and preventing further injury. (Photo provided)

82-year-old Charles “Chuck” Baker, left, died Tuesday after an ammonia leak aboard his vessel in Sitka the day before. Baker’s wife, Reona, credits their grandson Steven, pictured at right, with helping get others away from the ammonia and preventing further injury. (Photo provided)

A man injured during an ammonia leak aboard a fishing vessel in Sitka has died.

Charles “Chuck” Baker, of Auburn, Wash., was aboard the Eigil B.

The tender vessel was tied up at Sitka Sound Seafoods at the time of the incident, around 11:15 a.m. Monday.

Listen to iFriendly audio.

Baker was 82 years old when he died on Tuesday. He was a 60-year veteran of the fishing industry in Alaska, and co-owned the Eigil B with his son, Mike.

Reona Baker is his wife.

“We met in 1957 on a blind date,” she said Thursday. And for as long as Reona Baker had known her husband, he was around the sea.

“He started out with boats in Sea Scouts when he was a teenager,” she said. “Then he went into the Navy after high school and then right to work on a cannery tender after he got out of the Navy. I don’t know whether it was a built-in love of boats, but that’s what he loved doing…. That’s really the only comfort we can take in this whole thing, was that he was where he loved to be and doing what he loved to do.”

The 86-foot Eigil B was tied up at Sitka Sound Seafoods on Monday when the leak occurred.

Cheyenne Sanchez, with the spill-response arm of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, says the vessel released upwards of 50 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. The chemical is used in refrigeration systems.

The spill was quickly contained Monday, although workers were evacuated from the area, and a street was closed for about an hour.

No one besides Baker was seriously injured in the accident, although three or four people reported to area hospitals complaining of ammonia-exposure symptoms. Those symptoms include burning of the eyes, nose and throat.

At the time of the accident, Chuck Baker was on board the vessel with his son Mike and his 20-year-old grandson, Steven.

“To us, Steven is a hero,” Reona Baker said. “Our grandson tried very hard to save his grandfather, but he did save his father. If our grandson had not been there with a mask on there might have been more than one tragic ending.”

Comments

Please read our comment guidelines.

Recent News

Simpson and Hayes: Airing cultural assumptions without conflict

Writers Sherry Simpson and Ernestine Hayes discuss cultural assumptions in Alaskan literature in two venues: a stage presentation 7 PM Mon Sep 22 at the Sheetka Kwan Naa Kahidi, and in a hands-on writing workshop 6-9 PM Tue Sep 23 at the Yaw Chapel. Both events are free. For complete information, visit the Island Institute online. In collaboration with the 49 Alaska Writing Center. more

Peek-a-boo

moose
Like this moose in the woods,  many website users (well, most actually) freeze in their tracks hoping not to be seen during our fund drives. No need for camouflage though, we only ask you to consider a membership level that is comfortable for you. Please contribute right now...we'd love to see more of you! Thanks to Richard Nelson of Encountersnorth.org for the photo. You can see more here! more