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Ferry officials apologize for leaving casket

Posted: Friday, December 14, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Alaska Marine Highway System officials issued an apology for leaving the body of a family member behind when the ferry Aurora left Sitka.

Capt. Athos Gambacorta ordered the ferry to leave on Oct. 12 just as family members said a hearse containing the body of Gertrude Demmert arrived at the dock. Family members said Gambacorta refused to allow the body on board.

''We do our best to accommodate specific requests from passengers, but when weather or tides narrow our windows of operation, our ability to accommodate special needs is sometimes greatly diminished, much to our dismay,'' wrote Capt. George Capacci, ferry system general manager.

Gambacorta was pressured to pass through the Sergius Narrows before high tide, Capacci said.

The incident delayed memorial services for Demmert in Angoon by two days. Her daughter, Darlene Johnson, rebuffed the apology and said action should be taken against the Aurora captain.

''I would like to do something but I'm not sure what I can do. I don't think an apology is enough,'' Johnson said.



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