Sterling man presumed dead following Portage Lake accident

Sterling resident presumed dead following lake accident

A 50-year-old Sterling man is missing and presumed dead after a boating accident on Portage Lake.

Larry Dobson jumped into the lake Monday in an attempt to retrieve a canoe that had drifted away from the shore, but began to struggle and disappeared beneath the surface, Alaska State Troopers report.

Larry and Dave Dobson had canoed to the south side of Portage Lake on Monday. They spent the afternoon hiking, but when they returned to their boat, they found it had drifted away from the lake’s shoreline.

Dave Dobson, 51, also of Sterling, entered the water to rescue his brother, but returned to the shoreline. He spent the night on the lakeshore, troopers reported.

The brothers had planned an afternoon trip and were not prepared to stay at the lake overnight. Steep cliffs prevented them from hiking around the lake, said troopers’ spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

It is unclear why Larry Dobson ultimately chose to swim after the canoe, Ipsen said.

The canoe drifted back to the lakeshore sometime Tuesday morning. Dave Dobson retrieved the canoe and paddled back across the lake to the parking lot, where a family member who had come looking for the brothers met him. A Whittier ambulance took him to Providence Hospital in Anchorage for hypothermia treatment, Ipsen said.

Soldotna dispatch received a call about the lost boater Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. A trooper, a Whittier police officer and a U.S. Forest Service officer spent Tuesday searching the lake in a jet boat. They continued to search the lake Wednesday in a larger and well-equipped boat, Ipsen said.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at


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