1 hunter dead, another missing after boat hits rough seas off Whittier

The pair were reportedly hunting on Wednesday on Esther Island in Prince William Sound.

Alaska State Troopers logo.

Alaska State Troopers logo.

A boating accident near Whittier left one man dead and another missing Wednesday night, according to a dispatch from the Alaska State Troopers.

The Whittier Police Department and U.S. Coast Guard tentatively identified the remains of Stefan Weingarth, 28, of Anchorage at 3:10 a.m. Thursday. Luki Akelkok III, 28, of Dillingham, remains missing.

The pair were reportedly hunting on Wednesday on Esther Island in Prince William Sound with two others, who were in a different boat, when they encountered “inclement weather conditions” on their way back to Whittier.

A witness told Whittier Search and Rescue there were 6-foot waves topped with whitecaps and winds blowing around 40 nautical miles per hour.

The dispatch stated that Weingarth contacted the other hunters, who were already on their way back to Anchorage, and told them the bow of their boat was underwater and the vessel was sinking.

According to the report, Weingarth told the other hunters he and Akelkok — as well as the four deer and two seals onboard — were five minutes outside Whittier.

At 10:13 p.m. Wednesday the U.S. Coast Guard reported an “unidentified” body in a life jacket near Trinity Point approximately 5 miles northeast of Whittier in Passage Canal, the dispatch stated. The body was later tentatively identified as Weingarth. His remains are being transported to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage.

According to the report, the missing vessel — a 20-foot aluminum Lund skiff — was recovered. The Coast Guard and Alaska State Wildlife Troopers are still in Whittier to assist with the search for Akelkok, who remains a missing person.

All next of kin have been notified, according to the dispatch.

This story has been updated.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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