Theodore Hahler, 07-08-03

ADN, July 10, 2003

Captain's body found on sunken fishing boat near Sitka
KRUZOF ISLAND: Passing airliner picked up emergency signal and told Coast Guard.

The Associated Press

SITKA -- Divers have found the body of a Sitka fisherman on board his sunken vessel.

The body of Theodore Hahler, 41, was found on the Ms. Everett in shallow water off the west side of Kruzof Island, northwest of Sitka.

A search began Tuesday when a passing Alaska Airlines jet picked up an emergency radio signal. Fire Chief Dave Miller said the pilot called the Coast Guard around 6:25 a.m. to report the signal.

The 17th District Coast Guard Command Center in Juneau sent a helicopter from Air Station Sitka to the area. The Sitka Volunteer Fire Department sent a dive team and three boats from Search and Rescue to help.

The helicopter spotted an oil sheen and debris a quarter-mile offshore of Point Amelia north of Shelikof Bay, said Search and Rescue Capt. Don Kluting of the fire department.

A hull number on a piece of debris indicated the identity of the missing boat, said Paul Webb, a search and rescue specialist with the Coast Guard in Juneau.

Miller said the volunteer search boats attempted to haul the submerged troller closer to shore for investigation.

Petty Officer Cory Cichoracki at the command center in Juneau said the first indication of something amiss came just before 4 a.m., when the center picked up a signal from an emergency locator device.

However, he said, that particular type of signal is almost always a false alarm and a search was not started until the confirming call from the Alaska Airlines jet.

Divers found Hahler's body inside the pilot house.

The cause of the sinking is under investigation by the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Detachment in Sitka.