California man dies near Yakutat

Posted: Sunday, September 09, 2001

YAKUTAT(AP) -- A California man died Thursday after he fell into the Italio River near Yakutat, according to Alaska State Troopers, but they say he may have suffered a heart attack.

Roy Huelden, 66, was crossing the river in a canoe with three other men from La Crescenta, Calif., when the incident occurred a little before 0 a.m.

Huelden was trying to pull the canoe toward shore when he grabbed his chest and fell into the water, his friends told authorities. He was swept downstream even though one of his friends jumped in to try to help.

The men were able to contact Yakutat police via marine radio, and a Coast Guard helicopter was nearby. The Coast Guard aircraft spotted the unconscious man at about 11:30 a.m. and a rescue swimmer pulled him from the frigid stream. He was loaded onto the helicopter, where CPR was started immediately. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the clinic in Yakutat.

Huelden had open heart surgery in March, according to troopers..

The Italio River is about 25 miles southeast of Yakutat.

Huelden's companions were identified as Richard Verdugo, Terry Holden, and Joel Rupp. All were from La Crescenta.

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