Medical examiner determines doctor's death a suicide

Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) The high-profile doctor whose body was found in the Port of Valdez last week died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Valdez police said Tuesday after the state medical examiner released the results of an autopsy.

Andrew Embick shot himself in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun, Police Chief Joseph Michaud said. Divers recovered the weapon in the same area Embick's body was found Friday, two days after the doctor was last seen in his rowing scull.

''The facts of the case don't lend themselves to anything else,'' the police chief said. ''There's no indication of foul play.''

Michaud said police and the medical examiner arrived at the same conclusion after conducting separate investigations.

Embick, 52, left no suicide note, but acquaintances said he had seemed ''very different'' since returning from a 6-month sabbatical in northern Pakistan last month, according to Michaud.

''Many of the people we talked to said he just seemed quieter,'' he said.

Embick, an experienced outdoorsman and kayaker, had been an outspoken voice against the city over use of ski trails he set up. He was banned from using the trails after several confrontations with snowmachiners.

Embick also was known for his wilderness skills, participating in rigorous outdoor races. He was the author of several books and articles, including the 1994 book, ''Fast & Cold: A guide to Alaska White Water.''

''He was an internationally known climber and kayaker, a pretty amazing individual,'' Michaud said. ''I just hope people remember that.''

Embick disappeared last Wednesday after he left his wife a note saying he was going out on the water.

Authorities launched an extensive search after canoers found the empty scull soon after Embick was seen launching the boat. The scull had no water in it and only binoculars were found in the bottom.

Michaud said a partially deflated rubber boat owned by Embick was found nearby. Embick could have been on the rubber boat when he shot himself.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday morning in Valdez.

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