Southern Norton Sound villages search for man missing at sea
Family and friends have been searching for Carlie Alexie, a 37-year-old man from Mountain Village. As of press time on Tuesday afternoon, Alexie is still missing after going overboard from a boat in the sea near Stebbins. Meanwhile, two other individuals who were on the boat with him are facing charges.
Alexie was reported as a possible drowning victim last Thursday, Aug. 3 around 6 p.m. He apparently jumped into the sea near the Pikmiktalik River and did not resurface. Village Police Officers from Stebbins responded to search for Alexie.
The U.S. Coast Guard also responded that evening with an MH-60 Jayhawk, said Petty Officer Shannon Kearney, of the USCG’s Base Kodiak public affairs department. Less than 24 hours later the search was suspended. Kearney said USCG was told by the Alaska State Troopers that no further assistance was needed. In its dispatch about the incident, AST said the search was suspended due to inclement weather.
In the absence of further help from state and federal agencies, a local effort to look for Alexie resumed after the weekend’s stormy conditions subsided.
“He’s afloat in the ocean somewhere, and we need to bring him home—there needs to be closure,” said Alexie’s cousin, Anna Nashoanak of Stebbins, who is helping to organize the search.
A base camp was established at Pikmiktalik for volunteers from across the region to gather. On Tuesday morning, Nashoanak said that about 40 people were at the camp, including three cooks from Stebbins. About 15 boats were searching the waters between Romanoff and Stebbins, she said. Residents from other villages in the region like Unalakleet were pitching in by sending supplies and food by Bering Air.
The group is still looking for assistance in the form of volunteers and donations.
“Gas is $7.02 a gallon and we’re doing everything we can to fundraise for gas,” Nashoanak said. “And with the prices of food being set like gas prices, everything is expensive.”
She said donations of gas can be purchased directly at Stebbins’ fuel company under Alexie Search and Rescue by contacting Rudy Mike at 907-944-1157.
Nashoanak also urged others in the region to be on the lookout for Alexie’s remains.
“He could have floated toward Nome or around the northern Norton Sound region during the south wind,” she said.
Though Alexie was from Mountain Village, he has ties to the region as his mother is from St. Michael, Nashoanak said. “She just wants her son home,” she said. Alexie had a young daughter, too.
“All they had were each other,” Nashoanak said. “Her only wish is for her dad to go home.”
Warren Okitkun, a 37-year-old Kotlik resident, and Caitlyn Prince, a 25-year-old Kotlik resident, are now facing charges related to the incident.
According to a preliminary investigation by the Alaska State Troopers, Okitkun and Prince reported to Village Police Officers from Stebbins that their friend had jumped off the boat and didn’t resurface.
A VPO asked Okitkun and Prince to follow him to the area where Alexie went overboard, according to an affidavit submitted by Alaska State Trooper Christopher Rafferty. But when they started driving, Okitkun and Prince allegedly sped away in rough waters. There was also an 11-year-old child on the boat with them.
Citizens from Stebbins attempted to intercept the boat and remove the child, but they kept speeding toward St. Michael. They were eventually located near Stephens Hill between the two villages, and they were towed back into Stebbins, according to Rafferty’s affidavit. He wrote that Okitkun and Prince admitted to being under the influence of alcohol. They were reported to be slurring their speech, and a VPO found empty bottles of homebrew on the boat.
Rafferty wrote that Okitkun and Prince did not cause Alexie to go overboard but their actions “greatly impeded the ability of search and rescue crews to locate the overboard person.” He added that the Coast Guard had to divert their search to help locate the child.
Both Okitkun and Prince have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, operating a watercraft while under the influence, assault in the third degree and reckless endangerment.