Sitka woman killed, 2 hurt in weekend boating capsize

a map of Three Entrance Bay near Sitka
The waters around Three Entrance Bay are exposed to ocean swell, and can be hazardous even in calm weather. (KCAW image)

A Sitka woman died after a boat capsized near Sitka Sunday morning, injuring two men also on board who were rescued.

Sitka police report that Deanna Moore, age 51, her husband, 56-year old Jay Stilwell, and 42-year old Roger Hames, Jr. were traveling in Stilwell’s C-Dory just outside of Three Entrance Bay when the boat was pushed into a rock by a wave. A second wave swamped the vessel, and it capsized.

Stilwell and Hames escaped into the water and were picked up by a nearby Good Samaritan vessel, but Moore remained trapped inside the C-Dory. An Air Station Sitka helicopter responding to the scene lowered a rescue swimmer and retrieved Moore from inside the capsized boat. She was flown to Sitka and was later pronounced dead at Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center.

The two men were transferred to the Sitka Police Department’s emergency response vessel and also taken to Mt. Edgecumbe, where both were treated for injuries.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Lexie Preston, at 17th District headquarters in Juneau, said Monday afternoon that the C-Dory remains semi-submerged in the same vicinity where it capsized. There is no visible fuel spill, and as yet no salvage plan.

The weather Sunday morning in Sitka was clear and cold, with light winds. However there was still a large residual swell from recent gales. The swell, combined with large tides, can generate what one witness at the scene described as “confused seas” in the vicinity of Three Entrance Bay.

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