Man drowns after raft overturns

The man was on the Eagle River, returning from an overnight cabin stay.

Coast Guardsmen stand in formation at Juneau International Airport as the body of Chief Petty Officer Jeffery DeRonde, who died over the weekend, is loaded on an airplane on Sept. 7, 2021. (Courtesy photo / Capital City Fire/Rescue)

A Juneau resident died after his raft flipped on the Eagle River, according to Juneau Police Department.

34-year-old Jeffrey DeRonde and another person ended up in the water after their rafts overturned coming back from an overnight trip on Sunday afternoon, according to police.

DeRonde became trapped in river debris, getting fully submerged and unable to be freed, said Lt. Krag Campbell in a news release.

“He was wearing a type of (personal flotation device),” Campbell said in an interview. “Once they were in the water, everything I think was done to prevent the death.”

Other members of the group contacted emergency services as soon as they were able, Campbell said, and JPD was notified at about 4:30 p.m.

“By the time we got it, he’d been in the water submerged and been there for quite some time,” Campbell said. “That area doesn’t get cell reception.”

Capital City Fire/Rescue, with helicopter support from the Coast Guard, attempted to recover the body on Sunday afternoon, but because of weather and river conditions, operations had to be postponed until Monday.

At 12:30 p.m. on Monday, responders were able to recover DeRonde’s body, which will go to the medical examiner’s office in Anchorage, Campbell said. The death is not being viewed as suspicious and alcohol is not believed be a factor, Campbell said.

DeRonde was a Coast Guard chief petty officer stationed in Juneau, and was sent off by Coast Guardsmen from Juneau International Airport on Tuesday, according to a CCFR social media post.

Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

A man drowned on the Eagle River, shown in this Google Earth screenshot, while rafting on Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021. (Screenshot)

A man drowned on the Eagle River, shown in this Google Earth screenshot, while rafting on Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021. (Screenshot)

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