A boating accident on Tustumena Lake claimed the lives of two people late Friday night. Ashley Udelhoven, 47, and Katarina Anderson, 16, both of Kenai, were found dead Saturday night during a search of the lake after authorities had received word there was boating debris in the water, according to Alaska State Troopers Information Officer Beth Ipsen.
There were three survivors: Hanna Udelhoven, 13, and Miranda Udelhoven, 15, both of Soldotna; and their friend, Athena Robinson, 12, of Sterling.
Authorities said Ashley Udelhoven, along with his two daughters and their two friends, headed out Friday about 9:30 p.m. for an outing. The waters were calm until their 18-foot aluminum boat reached halfway across the lake. The winds started picking up and the boat was swamped and sank about two miles from shore, according to Ipsen.
When the boat sank, the group of five — all wearing life vests — started to swim the rest of the way across the lake, but Katarina Anderson was starting to have trouble with her life vest. Ashley Udelhoven attempted to assist her but he became unresponsive within about half an hour, Ipsen said.
Ipsen said the three survivors made it to shore around 3 a.m. and huddled together for warmth until about 7:30 a.m., when they started to walk toward a cabin Miranda knew of in the area. At the cabin, they were able to make a fire and get warm. The cabin is referred to as Nurses Cabin and is on the north shore of the lake.
Rob Barto, a law enforcement officer with Fish and Wildlife, who was on the scene, commended the three girls.
“Those girls did an amazing job,” Barto said. “It was an incredible survival situation that those girls went through.”
The Alaska State Troopers received the call reporting the boating debris around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. A boater on the lake identified Udelhoven’s name and phone number on one of the coolers from the boat floating in the lake. The boater called his wife, who was able to call the Alaska State Troopers. Ipsen would not release the names of the boater and his wife.
The search included an Alaska Wildlife Troopers aircraft, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife aircraft, and two Fish and Wildlife boats. Both Katarina Anderson and Ashley Udelhoven were found by 7:30 p.m.
Barto said the three girls were all wearing very bright colors and waved a bright colored flag. They were found at about 8:15 p.m.
The survivors were taken to Central Peninsula Hospital for minor injuries.