UPDATE Tuesday, January 7, 2020: This search was suspended on Monday evening, January 6.
An intensive air and water search is underway in Sitka for a missing kayaker.
The US Coast Guard and Sitka Mountain Rescue have been combing the shoreline and islands of Sitka Sound looking for 36-year old Kale Pastel, who was reported missing on Sunday morning (1-5-19).
Pastel departed in his kayak from the UAS-Sitka campus area at 4:30 a.m., headed to Birdsnest Bay, near Camp Coogan Bay. He was reported overdue shortly after 10 a.m.
Pastel’s kayak was spotted by a Coast Guard crew at 1:15 p.m. on Cannon Island. A good Samaritan had located the kayak earlier that morning overturned and adrift in Eastern Channel, and towed it to shore.
Eric Matthes is the deputy captain and technical team leader with Sitka Mountain Rescue. He says the team searched by boat and helicopter throughout Sunday afternoon, but had to scale back the efforts when the sun set.
“The focus for our searching is really only effective for daylight hours for this particular kind of search,” he says. “The Coast Guard searched after a while after dark yesterday. The field operations for our end were suspended overnight.”
Matthes says they made plans for daybreak today (Monday 1-6-19), with somewhere between 20 and 40 volunteers aiding in the search. The Coast Guard Cutter Bailey Barco arrived from Ketchikan this morning, and Sitka Coast Guard crews continue to search by helicopter and boat.