Robert Crockett Jr., 08-19-07

Missing fisherman discovered dead in Willow Creek log jam
UNDERWATER: Anchorage man trapped in Willow Creek logjam.


Published: August 21, 2007

WASILLA -- Rescue personnel found the body Monday of a 38-year-old Anchorage man who went missing Sunday while fishing with his father on Willow Creek, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The body of Robert Crockett Jr. was found underwater beneath a logjam around 12:55 p.m., a full day after he disappeared.

His father, Robert Crockett Sr., also of Anchorage, told troopers he last saw his son around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, when the younger man, hoping to change his luck, went off to fish near a logjam left by the August 2006 flood. His body was discovered near another log pile, said troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

The creek nearby is mostly ankle-deep, but then drops suddenly and steeply into a deep hole. Crockett may have fallen into the deep part while trying to cross Willow Creek, Peters said.

The father and son were fishing about two miles above the Parks Highway off a trailhead along Willow-Fishhook Road, she said.

After failing to reconnect later in the day, Crockett's father searched for him until 8 p.m. Sunday, then flagged down a battalion fire chief from Willow Fire Department who happened by, Peters said. The chief notified troopers, she said.

Searchers combed the area, using dogs to assist. A member of the search party found the body Monday afternoon.

Clint Vardeman, deputy director of Matanuska-Susitna Borough emergency services, said the borough dive team with four members, the Willow rescue team with four members, the Houston ambulance with three, a trooper and the trooper helicopter were all involved in the search and recovery.

The area is covered with thick, low-lying vegetation with limited lines of sight. The creek was running at a normal level, Vardeman said.

A troopers helicopter joined the search Sunday night and using its night vision capability searched until 1 a.m., Peters said.

Peters said the father and son had fished the area together for the past two or three years and were familiar with it.