ANCHORAGE (AP) A woman's body discovered in Cook Inlet late last week likely is that of Florida schoolteacher Pamela Hawthorne, one of the passengers aboard the Cessna 180 that disappeared June 25 while flying from Hallo Bay to Homer, Alaska State Troopers said.
''We're all thinking this is the woman out of the missing plane,'' said Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Jim Hibpshman, who helped take the body to the mortuary. Until an autopsy is done, and medical and dental records checked, no one can be certain, he said.
The autopsy did determine that the woman drowned.
Hawthorne was from Lake Worth, Fla. Hawthorne's family has been contacted, Hibpshman said.
The woman's body was found Thursday by a family fishing for salmon in Cook Inlet aboard the Corrina Kay. The captain of the vessel, Roy Self, said he was doing contract work for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the time, fishing at designated spots to help test the strength of the salmon run.
Self said he and his crew his daughter and two grandsons, ages 13 and 18 were on their way to one of their designated fishing spots when they spotted something pink in the water. Self, who has been fishing in Cook Inlet for 34 years, said he initially thought the pink object was a life jacket. Then he saw two shoes bobbing in the water next to it.
''My heart just sank,'' he said. The pink object was her windbreaker.
Self called troopers and the Coast Guard. The seas were rough, and troopers and Self agreed that the best and safest way to retrieve the body was for Self to bring it aboard and return with it to Homer, Hibpshman said.
Self said he was thankful that the body was recovered so a family somewhere could have closure.
''This lady may have kids or grandkids,'' he said.
Hawthorne's husband, James, and pilot Albert ''Bert'' Novak of Palmer were also on the plane that vanished June 25.
Hibpshman said authorities do not plan to search the waters where the woman's body was found. He said it's been almost two weeks since the plane disappeared and the currents in the area are constantly changing.
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