A member of the Alaska Army National Guard died about 2 a.m. Saturday while dip netting in Copper River.

According to a statement from the Alaska Army National Guard on Sunday, 35-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Russell Anthony Hepler was fishing near O’Brien Creek with his wife when the incident happened.

There were attempts to save Hepler, but he was swept downstream by the current.

People in a fishing boat recovered Hepler’s body and contacted Alaska State Troopers.

“I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of our Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Hepler. I extend my most sincere condolences to his wife, Shandra, and their children, loved ones, friends, and the Soldiers he served alongside,” said commander of the Alaska Army National Guard, Brig. Gen. Charles “Lee” Knowles in the statement. “While words seem inadequate, we may hope and pray that Sgt. 1st Class Hepler’s family is comforted with strength and peace as they grieve.”

Hepler joined the Alaska Army National Guard in 2007. He served in Ketchikan and at Fort Greely, where he was assigned at the time of his death.

His next of kin have been notified and memorial services have been arranged.

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