The Coast Guard and Alaska State Troopers Thursday night (9-20-18) called off the search for a Kake resident who is believed to have fallen off the town pier and drowned.
State troopers in Ketchikan were notified shortly before 9 p.m. on Wednesday that 55-year old Reginald Skeek, Jr., had gone missing after last being seen in the Kake liquor store earlier in the afternoon.
Community members and two village public safety officers began a search for Skeek on Wednesday. On Thursday, officers reviewed surveillance video from the liquor store and observed an unidentified individual falling off the dock into the water behind the store at about 1 p.m. the previous day. Additional troopers and a helicopter from Air Station Sitka responded to search for Skeek, without success.
The Coast Guard announced it had suspended the search for Skeek on Thursday evening. “It’s one of the hardest decisions we have to make,” said mission coordinator Byron Hayes.
Weather during the search was good, with light winds and seas of 1-2 feet.
UPDATE Monday, September 24, 2018
Last Friday afternoon (9-21-18), the Organized Village of Kake issued a press statement with some clarifying details about the search for Reginald “Reg” Skeek, Jr.
A GoFundMe account on to assist in the search for Skeek has been created here.
The community of Kake, in partnership with the State of Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS), have been actively searching for Reginald Skeek Jr. (Reg) since surveillance cameras showed Skeek on the downtown pier in Kake this Wednesday afternoon at 12:36 p.m. Though articles in both Anchorage Daily News (ADN) and the Associated Press noted that the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has suspended their own search, our search is still very active and local community members are searching tirelessly in the bay outside of Kake for him.
The appearance that alcohol was a factor that ADN alluded to in Reg’s demise is false; Reg was experiencing chest pains recently according to his mother Lena Skeek. The surveillance camera footage Sept. 20 shows there was a 7-minute lapse between Reg slumping backward and him finally falling into the water. Two of his friends, who were the last to see and talk with him at the pier, encouraged him to go with them due to him not looking o.k., but he stated he wanted to take a rest and enjoy the sunshine and view.
The USCG dispatched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to Kake at approximately 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning, did three large aerial sweeps of the shoreline and surrounding waters before radioing to the chief of Kake Volunteer Fire Department, Calvin Wilson Jr., that they were going to refuel the helicopter. While the community of Kake awaited their return, Alaska DPS and Alaska State Troopers arrived on the scene and more than 15 good Samaritan boats continued to comb the bay in the surrounding area. This morning, the community learned from an ADN article that the USCG had suspended their search without informing the Skeek family or emergency responders in Kake. Dawn Jackson, the Organized Village of Kake Executive Director, reached out to the commanding officer in Sitka but has yet to receive a call back.
Dawn has been in contact with Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins’ office in Sitka, who is working with Alaska DPS and the Alaska State Troopers, who had the following information to relay:
“The search is currently active with the use of an ROV (remote operated vehicle—used to search underwater) and approximately five good Samaritan boats. Deployment of divers from Sitka to assist the locals with the search was approved, and the Sitka Dive Team should already be in Kake or arriving very shortly.
The dive team arrived in Kake at approximately 1:00 p.m. today (Friday 9-21-18) and immediately went into the water after receiving details from the Troopers on site. They left Kake back to Sitka at 3:45 p.m. after no success in recovery.
Reg was the primary caretaker of his mother Lena Skeek, a beloved elder in Kake. He is loved deeply by his mother, sisters, nieces, nephews, and all their children. Reg has always been seen walking around town and visiting family and his pard’s at their places of work and homes just to see how they are doing. In historic Kake fashion, many volunteers started searching late Wednesday night for Reg in the waters off the pier in Kake after hearing of the surveillance footage; continuing through the night on their boats and along the shoreline, and community members have continuously supported them by preparing food, hot coffee, Gatorade, and water.
We deeply appreciate the support of all who are aiding in the search for a dear son, brother, uncle, family, pard, and community member.