Rescue turns into lost body recovery

Searchers don't expect to find Kenai River canoer alive

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2007

Rescue efforts were changed to a body recovery plan for a California man who went missing after his canoe capsized on the Kenai River on Tuesday. Alaska State Troopers, with the help of the state parks department and Central Emergency Services, combed the river from Naptowne Rapids to the mouth, but have been unable to locate him.

"Within hours after he was last seen it turned into a body recovery because the river is very cold and it's fast moving," said Beth Ipsen, information officer for Alaska State Troopers. "That river is heavily populated, there's homes all the way along the side of the river. The likelihood that he just walked off the river without somebody noticing is pretty slim."

Ipsen said Stephen Boyer and Tad Fumakoshi, both from California, fell into the river at Bing's Landing.

Fumakoshi, who was wearing a personal flotation device, made it to shore at Mile 17 of Funny River Road, but Boyer was still clinging to the canoe.

"He was not wearing a life jacket," Ipsen said, "his life jacket was found in the boat."

Jack Sinclair, acting superintendent for Alaska State Parks, said his department will participate in the search until Boyer is found.

"It's unfortunate that this happens more often than it should," he said. "Naptowne rapids are traditionally a bad place for canoers."

Ipsen said Boyer's next of kin in California had been notified and troopers will continue to search for his body.

"Fortunately there's a lot of traffic out there, a lot of people fishing and boating on the river," she said. "Maybe somebody else could spot something."

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at

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