Alan Leroy Dennis 05-06-09
Jared Todd Henderson

Two Haines teens die after waves flip canoe


Published: May 7th, 2009

Two teenagers died Wednesday after their canoe flipped in rough seas between Haines and Skagway, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

The bodies of Jared Todd Henderson, 19, and Alan Leroy Dennis, 17, both of Haines, were found on the beach of Lutak Inlet north of Haines around 8 p.m., shortly after searchers found their overturned 16-foot Coleman canoe floating in the water.

Henderson, Dennis and third teen, Harley George Whittington, 19, left Haines around 10 a.m. with plans to paddle their canoe 15 miles to Skagway to visit Henderson's brother who lives there, said Josh Bentz, a trooper based in Haines.

There was a small-craft advisory for the area at the time because of high winds.

About two hours into their journey, the canoe turned over in the waves, Bentz said. The three teens, who were wearing life jackets, struggled for some time to swim to shore in the rough water. Henderson became unconscious. Whittington tried to drag him to shore.

"He couldn't make it to shore and hold on to Jared," Bentz said. So he had to let go.

Dennis had on a backpack full of survival supplies, but he lost it in the waves. The last time Whittington saw him, he was swimming after it.

Whittington made it to shore and climbed a rock cliff to look for his friends, but saw no one. He climbed over a mountain back to a string of homes in the northernmost part of Haines, known as Lutak, Bentz said. Troopers got his call for help around 7 p.m.

By then, troopers were already looking for the teens in town. Henderson's brother had become worried and contacted their mother in Idaho, who alerted the authorities. Troopers began their search in town because the seas were so rough, they didn't think anyone would risk a canoe trip, Bentz said.

There was no indication alcohol was involved in the incident Bentz said.