Harry Merriam, 02-11-05

ADN, Sunday, 13 Feb 2005


Search continues for 78-year-old missing after short ride in skiff

A 78-year-old Petersburg man was missing for a second day Saturday after taking his skiff from the town's harbor on a routine 10-minute ride, authorities said.

Harry Merriam makes the trip to his log house on Kupreanof Island near the mouth of Petersburg Creek daily, said John Pickens, a member of the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department Search and Rescue team.

He went there about 8 a.m. Friday. His usual return is about 2 p.m. and he is considered late if he's not back by 4 p.m., Pickens said. Merriam did not return Friday, and his wife called for help at 7 p.m., he said.

Merriam's skiff, a 16-foot flat-bottom boat with a 30 horsepower outboard motor, was found Saturday morning on a beach near the mouth of Wrangell Narrows, according to Pickens. It appeared the tide had beached the skiff, he said.

Weather was "miserable, with heavy snow, windy and low visibility" when Merriam motored out of Petersburg on Friday, according to Pickens. Merriam was wearing rain gear and long underwear and was "somewhat prepared for the weather," he said.

Besides members of the search-and-rescue team, others who looked for Merriam on Friday night and all day Saturday include Alaska State Troopers, a U.S. Forest Service officer and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The search was to resume today with additional help from the Civil Air Patrol and the Seadogs from Juneau, Pickens said.

-- Anchorage Daily News