Missing Ketchikan man presumed dead after video shows fall into water, police say

Ketchikan cruise ship berth
Berth 3 of Ketchikan’s downtown cruise ship docks is shown on April 30, 2022. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

A Ketchikan man reported missing last week was seen on surveillance footage falling into the water near the city’s downtown cruise ship berths and is believed to be dead, according to police.

In an email, Ketchikan Police Chief Jeff Walls says video shows 32-year-old Rex Sowell falling into the water near Berth 3 on Ketchikan’s cruise ship docks on Nov. 19. He was last seen that night at the Arctic Bar, which sits just opposite the berth. Sowell was reported missing three days later, on Nov. 22.

Walls said police found the surveillance footage showing Sowell’s fall on Friday, Nov. 25 and started to search the Tongass Narrows along with the Ketchikan harbormaster and the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad.

“Unfortunately, due to the tide movements and time in the water, the believed purpose of the search was to recover Mr. Sowell’s remains,” Walls said.

The search did not locate Sowell, according to the rescue squad.

Walls said Sowell was alone when he fell in, and there are no signs of foul play. He said investigators “believe his level of intoxication played a part” in the fall.

Walls said police have been in touch with Sowell’s mother throughout the search. He said the department delayed its public announcement to allow her to return home and inform family members.

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