Man missing after walking into Cook Inlet

Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man disappeared into Cook Inlet on Wednesday evening near Anchorage's small boat harbor and authorities assumed he drowned.

Witness Boyd Connolly and two friends had returned to Anchorage from a fishing trip. They were in their small skiff about 5:40 p.m. waiting for the tide to come in so they could pull up onto the boat launch. Connolly said he looked up and saw a man standing on the jetty just north of the launch.

The man, dressed in a long-sleeve plaid shirt and khaki pants but no shoes, yelled something but Connolly could not hear what.

''Next thing I see him on the bank down there,'' Connolly said. ''I said, 'Hey, look at that guy -- he's walking right in the water!' We all looked at him. He walked in about waist deep, looked around, walked out a little further, and kind of slumped down.''

The man floated on his back for a little while.

''When he was floating on his back I thought he was showing off,'' Connolly said. ''He looked over and smiled.''

The three men watched as the other man went under the water, came up once, and then vanished.

One of Connolly's friends got out of the boat and ran up the ramp, yelling for someone in the parking lot to call 911. Connolly and his second companion, meanwhile, began searching

Anchorage firefighters launched a helicopter and searched unsuccessfully for about 45 minutes.

Police found a backpack on the jetty containing the Alaska identification card of a 29-year-old man but said they cannot be sure it belonged to the missing man.

Fire Battalion Chief John Huxley said the tide was moving north at about 2 mph, creating an area too large for a dive team to look for a body.

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