Driftwood Charters vessel rescues man who floated into Cook Inlet on iceberg

Man rescued after floating in Cook Inlet on iceberg

A Homer man is expected to fully recover after floating out to sea on a chunk of ice near Anchor Point last Saturday, according to a dispatch from the Alaska State Troopers. The U.S. Coast Guard of Alaska said in a Saturday post to Facebook that Jamie Snedden, 45, was walking along the shoreline near Anchor Point when the piece of ice he was standing on broke off and began floating into Cook Inlet with him on it.

Snedden was located by Alaska Wildlife Troopers about 300 yards offshore near the mouth of the Anchor River roughly 35 minutes after troopers were notified of the incident, the dispatch said. When located by Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Snedden was seen submerged in the water, with only his head and arms visible, clinging to the ice, the dispatch said. The U.S. Coast Guard was notified and issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast, but had an unknown estimated time of arrival, according to the Coast Guard and trooper updates.

Also out at sea Saturday was the F/V Misty, a 30-foot aluminum hull vessel belonging to Driftwood Charters, which operates out of Homer, the Coast Guard said. The F/V Misty, which was about 4 miles south of Snedden when the broadcast was issued, responded to the scene with seven people on board, according to the Coast Guard.

At the same time, Alaska Wildlife Troopers deployed an inflatable raft and rowed to Snedden, who appeared to have difficulty staying afloat and was not wearing a personal floatation device, the trooper dispatch said. The crew of the F/V Misty reached Snedden at roughly the same time, the dispatch said.

The crew of the F/V Misty transported Snedden to the Anchor Point harbor, where emergency medical services were waiting at the Anchor Point tractor launch to transport him to Homer, according to troopers. About 100 miles offshore, Snedden was loaded into the trooper raft and taken to the Anchor Point EMS at the tractor launch, the dispatch said. The dispatch also said Snedden was “very hypothermic,” but conscious and breathing. Snedden was taken to South Peninsula Hospital for treatment, the dispatch said.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard of Alaska, conditions at the time Snedden was rescued were 5 mph winds and calm seas with 10-mile visibility. The air temperature was 30 degrees while the water temperature was 38 degrees, the Coast Guard said.

In its Facebook post, the Coast Guard called the response of the F/V Misty “heroic” and praised the collaboration between agencies that allowed for Snedden’s safe rescue. According to the trooper dispatch, Driftwood Charters’ Captain Blakely was motoring the F/V Misty on Saturday.

“Rapid transmission of information and cooperation among all of our teams enabled a timely response from the good Samaritan crew aboard charter vessel Misty,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Malcolm LeGloahec is quoted as saying in the Coast Guard of Alaska’s online update.

LeGloahec said sea ice throughout Alaska is melting “rapidly” due to recent warm temperatures and that sea ice is not safe to walk on in many cases. He said Snedden’s rescue is a reminder for the public to be aware and careful when near ice that could be affected by tides or currents.

“There are limited agency resources that are readily available to respond in a timely manner and these cases do not all have happy endings,” LeGloahec said.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.