A happy 13-year old kayaker and her clearly relieved aunt and uncle catch a ride back to North Beach cabin in an Air Station Sitka H-60 rescue helicopter. Authorities believe warm temperatures and calm conditions were huge factors in the successful outcome. (USCG photo)

After an intensive search, a 13-year old girl was found safe on shore after her kayak capsized in Shelikov Bay, about 15 miles from Sitka, on Tuesday (7-3-18).

The 13-year old girl and her aunt an uncle were paddling from North Beach cabin. An Air Station Sitka helicopter located her on the beach to the south, trying to hike back to the cabin. (KCAW image)

According to Lt. Lance Ewers, police in Sitka were called at about 1:30 in the afternoon by a mother who had received an emergency text from her sister and brother-in-law, who were camping at North Beach cabin with her child — the couple’s 13-year old niece.

The couple reported seeing the girl’s kayak flip in Shelikov Bay, on the outer coast of Kruzof Island. They were in a double kayak themselves and quickly found their niece’s boat — but the girl herself was missing.

An Air Station Sitka helicopter was already airborne when the call came in. The helicopter diverted to Shelikov Bay and picked up the girl’s aunt and uncle to aid in the search.

A “hasty team” from Sitka Search and Rescue, including divers and police, made the 15-mile trip to Shelikov Bay. A boat from the Alaska State Troopers was also prepared to join the search, along with a private boat from an all-terrain vehicle concession on Kruzof Island.

The Coast Guard helicopter finally spotted the girl on shore near Port Mary, attempting to hike the two miles back to North Beach. She was hoisted aboard and delivered wet — but safe — back to the cabin along with her aunt.

With temperatures in the 70s, Lt. Ewers was thankful for the warm weather. He commended the swift action of everyone involved in the search. “Between drowning, bears, or a broken ankle, this could have been so much worse,” he said.