Kevin Maze 2010-07-17
Jason McClarin

Two die when canoe overturns on Peninsula lake

By KYLE HOPKINS,, Published: July 17th, 2010

Alaska State Troopers say two Anchorage men are dead after their canoe overturned at about 2:15 p.m. today while they were fishing in Johnson Lake on the Kenai Peninsula.

Kevin Maze and Jason McClarin, both 35, had been camping in the area. They'd paddled about 90 feet from the shore of the popular trout-fishing lake when they capsized, said trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

A 13-year-old boy fishing along the bank looked up to see the accident and dialed 911, Trooper Thad Hamilton said.

One man, who couldn't swim, immediately disappeared under the water, Ipsen said in an e-mail. "The other went under after a few moments."

Neither man in the plastic, 15.5-foot canoe was wearing a life jacket, she said.

The lake, stocked with trout by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is south of Kasilof off the Sterling Highway. McClarin and Maze planned to meet friends from Anchorage there , Hamilton said.

"One of the friends showed up while we were in the lake trying to rescue them. They showed up about the same time we did," he said.

The bodies have been recovered and will be sent to the medical examiner for autopsy, Ipsen said.

The canoe overturned in an area where the lake is 10 or more feet deep, troopers estimated.

Even when the water is warm on the surface, lake temperatures can be deceptive on a hot day said Jack Sinclair, Kenai-Prince William Sound area superintendent for Alaska State Parks. "There's still a tremendous layer of cold water that exists in all these lakes, just two or three feet down. "

The deaths came on a busy recreational weekend at one of the state's older recreational areas, Sinclair said.

Hamilton, the trooper, said the accident underscores the need for life vests in Alaska's lakes and rivers.

"It doesn't take long and it doesn't take much to get cold and hypothermic," he said.