Willie Owens 05-31-09

Soldotna man drowns after boat capsizes on Longmere Lake

By MEGAN HOLLAND, mholland@adn.com

Published: May 31st, 2009

A 45-year-old Soldotna man drowned while fishing Saturday morning, Alaska State Troopers said.

Willie Owens was fishing alone in a 12-foot aluminum power boat when it capsized just before 8 a.m. on Longmere Lake. He was wearing waders but no life jacket and was about 80 yards from shore, troopers said.

He couldn't swim and called for help to a nearby home.

Melissa Reece, 40, woke up to the screams, troopers said. Peter Thompson, 58, swam out to Owens while Steven Stenga, another neighbor, loaded a boat and tried to get to Owens.

The two men brought Owens back to shore but he was unconscious and not breathing. He had been in the water about 15 minutes, troopers said. They began CPR but Owens did not regain consciousness.

Emergency services took him to Central Peninsula Hospital where he was pronounced dead.