Thomas Sagoonick 2010-07-17

Two rescued after boat sinks in Norton Sound

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

Shaktoolik villagers rescued two young men clinging to buoys after their fishing boat sank in Norton Sound Friday but another man is missing and presumed dead, troopers say.

A life jacket that Thomas Sagoonick, 36, was trying to put on as the 22-foot aluminum boat sank in rough seas was found among debris that later washed ashore, troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said today. Sagoonick remained missing Saturday evening.

The sinking was reported at about 3 p.m.

Brothers Brian Savetilik, 19, and Clarence Savetilik Jr., 24, held on to a buoy and to each other as friends arrived in another boat to rescue them, their mother said.

Edna Savetilik said she and other villagers had watched from the shore as waves washed over the boat. "You could barely see them when they were going in between waves," Savetilik said.

The young men and Sagoonick, their friend, had taken the boat out to haul commercial fishing nets. Troopers say the boat was heavy with salmon when it sank.

Edna Savetilik said she told her son not to go out in the poor conditions. "I told them it's too rough. But my son is so daring," she said.

Two young men -- identified by Savetilik as Michael Rock and A.J. Nakarak -- took another boat out and pulled her sons from the water, Savetilik said. "If it wasn't for those two boys. My boys would still be out there too."

Shaktoolik is a coastal village of about 230 people roughly 125 miles east of Nome.

Troopers say the boaters weren't using flotation devices, but Savetilik said they had life jackets in the boat.

"They didn't have time to grab their life vests but the guy that is still missing put his on and grabbed on to a buoy as well," she said.

Savetilik was with her sons as they were treated following the rescue. "I cried to them," she said.

"They cried back. Told a little bit of what happened out there. But they were mostly cold -- we needed to get them warmed up as fast as we could," Savetilik said.

Searchers looked for Sagoonick by air or by riding four-wheelers along the coast.