Whaler dies when boat capsizes near Barrow coast

Posted: Friday, October 04, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A whaler died Thursday when his boat overturned off the coast of Barrow, North Slope Borough police said.

Ralph Ahkivgak, 69, was one of six men who fell into the frigid water when their boat capsized. The 20-foot vessel was part of a string of boats towing a whale to shore, said police, who were notified of the mishap at 10:45 a.m.

The other five men were rescued by whalers in the other boats, but Ahkivgak was submerged in the water. He was not breathing when he was pulled out a short time later.

Resuscitation efforts were started on Ahkivgak as he was taken to shore on one of the boats before being transferred to Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital in Barrow, police said. The other men on the overturned boat also were taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia..

Hospital efforts to revive Ahkivgak failed and he was pronounced dead at 2:30 p.m.

Witnesses told police the boat overturned after the motor quit and the bow dipped into the water, pulling the vessel under. Ahkivgak went down with the boat, police said.

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