Prominent Sitka counselor and advocate dies in boating accident

a group of 11 people pose for a photo
Deanna Moore (first row, second from right) pictured with other members of Sitka’s sexual assault response team. The group was established as a multidisciplinary and collaborative effort to tend to the needs of survivors after their assault. (Kelsey Carney)

A Sitka woman has died after a boat capsized near Sitka on Sunday morning. Deanna Moore, 51, was a well-known counselor and advocate at Sitkans Against Family Violence and Sitka Counseling.

Two men on board were injured but survived.

Sitka police report that Moore, 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.

A map showing where the boat capsized.
The waters around Three Entrance Bay are exposed to ocean swell and can be hazardous even in calm weather. (KCAW image)

Stilwell and Hames escaped into the water and were picked up by a nearby Good Samaritan vessel, but Moore remained trapped inside the boat. 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.

Moore’s advocacy work brought her to the airwaves many times. Most recently, she shared her perspective on historical trauma in a panel discussion on KCAW’s Talk of Southeast Alaska in October 2020.

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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