UPDATE, 5 p.m. 8-24-15:
Alaska State Troopers have identified the man who died attempting to swim across the Sitka Channel over the weekend. He was 29-year-old Tyler Jones, of Bellingham, who was working on a fishing vessel in Sitka.
Police received a call just before midnight Friday (8-21-15), reporting a man in the water under the O’Connell Bridge.
According to a friend who called the police, Jones had jumped from the bridge into the water, and planned to swim to shore. City officials are unclear about where exactly he jumped from.
Sitka Fire Chief Dave Miller said there is no sign it was a suicide. He said the friend told responders that Jones was a good swimmer and very athletic, and planned to swim to the lightering facility near the bridge.
By the time the friend realized he was missing and called police, Jones had been in the water for at least twenty or thirty minutes, and possibly longer, officials said.
The Sitka Emergency Response Vessel arrived on scene with a dive team to begin the search, but high wind, rain and waves prevented divers from entering the water. Sitka police and fire personnel were joined by searchers from the State Troopers, U.S. Forest Service, Coast Guard, and Alaska Department of Fish & Game, as well as private vessels. The search was called off at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, and resumed at daylight.
The man’s body was recovered by the Sitka Fire Department’s dive team at about 8 a.m. Saturday, Miller said. It was found in the water just beneath the bridge.
Police believe that Jones drowned. His body was sent to the Medical Examiner in Anchorage to confirm the cause of death.
Original story, 8-23-15:
A man died in Sitka over the weekend, after attempting to swim across Sitka Channel.
Shortly before midnight Friday (8-21-15), Sitka police received a report of a man in the water under the O’Connell Bridge.
According to a friend who called the police, the man had jumped in the water to try and swim the channel. He had been in the water for at least 30 minutes before help was summoned.
The Sitka Emergency Response Vessel arrived on scene with a dive team to begin the search, but it was hindered by high winds and waves.
The search resumed Saturday in daylight, and the man’s body was found at about 12:30 in the afternoon.
Police believe the channel-swimmer drowned. His body was sent to the Medical Examiner in Anchorage. His name has not been released pending notification of next-of-kin.