Kerry Felton 2011-01-09
Search-and-rescue volunteer dies after plunge through ice
By KYLE HOPKINS, firstname.lastname@example.org, Published: January 10th, 2011
KODIAK: Victim was skating on thin ice and broke through in dark.
The vice president of a volunteer search and rescue team in Kodiak died while ice
skating at a popular local lake, a member of the group said Monday.
Kerry Felton, 40, began skating at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday on Island Lake, just north
of town, his wife told Alaska State Troopers.
Felton lives along an arm of the lake where the ice was as much as 1 foot thick
earlier in the day, said Nick Szabo, treasurer for the Kodiak Island Search and
But as Felton skated toward the main body of the lake, the ice may have softened,
"As he got out toward the mouth of the arm, the ice all of the sudden just pretty
much disappeared," he said. "It was just barely an inch thick. And so apparently
he didn't see that in the dark and went off into the thin ice and then went underwater."
Felton's wife, Karen, called troopers at about 11:10 p.m. Sunday to say her husband
hadn't returned from ice skating.
Trooper divers and the city and Bayside fire departments began a search, but silt
from the lake made it hard to find the body in the dark, Szabo said. Employees at
a Kodiak dive shop also helped in the rescue attempt, said trooper spokeswoman Megan
They found no sign of their teammate, who was vice president of the roughly 20-person
"Had it been someone else, (Felton) would have been one of the first ones on the
scene," Szabo said.
The search resumed later Monday. Using an underwater camera owned by a Kodiak dive
shop, troopers found Felton's body at about 10:25 a.m. in what looked to be about
10 feet of water, according to Szabo and state troopers.
"The trooper diver was in the water surface swimming and holding the device. Another
person was monitoring the camera images and providing directions to the trooper,"
The body was about halfway up the northeast arm of the lake, according to Szabo,
who lived along the lake for decades and said his property was used as a staging
area for the search.
Island Lake is a popular spot for skating, cross-country skiing and snowmachining
in the winter, Szabo said. But there are soft spots as well. "This isn't the first
time the lake has claimed a life," he said.
Kodiak has seen relatively warm weather over the past two days, said Courtney Webster,
a salesman at Orion's Sports, a local mountain sports shop. "Yesterday was pretty
nice. (Monday was) cloudy and it's been probably around in the mid-30s."
Read The Village, the ADN's blog about rural Alaska, at adn.com/thevillage. Twitter
updates: twitter.com/adnvillage. Call Kyle Hopkins at 257-4334.