Remains of missing Galaxy crewman identified

Posted: Wednesday, July 02, 2003

DILLINGHAM (AP) Human remains from a crewman on board a fishing boat that burned and sank in the Bering Sea last year have been recovered on an Aleutian Island.

Dental records indicated the remains came from the body of George Karn, 45, a crewman missing from the fishing vessel Galaxy after it burned Oct. 20.

Three of the 26 crew members on board died. Karn, of Anchorage and Renton, Wash., and first mate Jerry Stephens of Edmonds, Wash., were missing and presumed killed. Jose R. Rodas of Pasco, Wash., died of hypothermia.

Also, a crewman on board a Good Samaritan rescue vessel, Daniel Schmiedt, 24 of Arlington, Wash., was swept overboard and lost as his vessel, the Clipper Express, bucked 30-foot seas and 50-knot winds.

The cause of the explosions on the 180-foot Galaxy, a long-line catcher-processor being used to fish for Pacific cod, was not determined.

The Galaxy was about 30 miles southwest of St. Paul Island when explosions hit. Fires forced all on board to abandon the vessel.

A Coast Guard rescue swimmer and helicopter helped pull out five crewmen who leaped into the water to escape flames. Fishing vessels rescued 18 crew members.

Crew members reported seeing Karn, the ship cook, floating in his survival suit. They reported Stephens floating face down without any sort of personal flotation device.

Alaska State Troopers were notified June 9 that a human jaw bone had been found on Tanaga Island, about 40 miles west of Adak toward the west end of the Aleutians. Two days later, part of a survival suit was found in the same area.

The items were sent to the trooper missing person unit in Anchorage, where an examination revealed a partial vessel name: ''F/V Ga.''

A serial number on the suit confirmed it had come from the Galaxy.

The jaw bone was compared to dental records of Karn and Stephens and confirmed to be Karn's. His next of kin was notified.

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