AST IDs overdue boater; Coast Guard suspends search near Whittier
After searching more than 35 hours, the search for an overdue boater near Whittier on Saturday has been suspended, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Whittier’s harbormaster reported that the 16-foot skiff with one person on board, which was on a trip to tend crab pots in Passage Canal just north of Whittier and expected back by 1 p.m., had not returned by Saturday afternoon.
Alaska State Troopers identified the boater as 53-year-old Karl Stoltze, of Anchorage.
A Coast Guard stated statement search assets including an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Kodiak, as well as a small-boat crew from Valdez, were "saturating" eight square miles of the passage and Whittier’s harbor. Two good Samaritan vessels in the area, Qayaq Chief and the tug Krystalsea, helped launch the initial search.
“The crew of the Krystalsea spotted signs of debris this afternoon on the north side of the canal and found an ice chest possibly belonging to the owner of the overdue vessel,” Coast Guard officials wrote.
Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 1st Class Bill Colclough said there wasn't any immediate word on whether Stoltze was wearing a life jacket or had a survival suit.
"We do not know of any communications equipment or personal protective gear that this boater may have," Colclough said. "We also do not have any reports that the overdue boater filed a float plan."
Colclough said the Jayhawk crew landed at sundown; the Qayaq Chief, Krystalsea and Mustang continued the sea search overnight
Conditions in the search area included three-foot seas and winds of 34 mph.
A family friend posted to Facebook Easter morning that Karl was a kind person who was always willing to share his love of the sea.
"My friend Karl, I'm praying we find you today alive and well. Today as we celebrate Easter morning, if there is ever a day of miracles, it is today," she wrote.
Her post shared photos of Stoltze, who would take her sons and husband out for trips, saying the photos are "very typical of the hard work and fun that Karl is all about."
Alaska State Troopers ask anyone with information on Stoltze's whereabouts to give them a call.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.