Turnagain Times Flag Header
 Vol. 15, No. 20
Serving Indian, Bird, Girdwood, Portage, Whittier, Hope, Cooper Landing & Moose Pass  
October 18, 2012

Trooper Report


Ken Smith/Turnagain Times

A boat fell off a trailer on the Seward Highway just before the Twentymile River on Friday, Oct. 12.


The Alaska State Troopers reported the following incidents. Any charges reported are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

DUI and Refusal to Submit Chemical Test

GIRDWOOD—October 5 at around 6:39 p.m., Troopers conducted a traffic stop on silver 2001 Subaru Forester after receiving a REDDI (Report Every Dangerous Driver Immediately) report on the vehicle. Troopers found the vehicle stopped in the Girdwood Tesoro parking lot. The driver was identified as Tonga L. Mackey, age 43 of Sterling. An investigation revealed Mackey was driving while impaired by alcohol. Mackey was arrested and remanded to the Anchorage Jail. Bail was set at $5,000 and a court approved third party. The vehicle was released to a family member.


Cooper Landing—October 3 at approximately 10 p.m., Trooper dispatch received a report of a vehicle that had crashed into a ditch near mile 46 of the Sterling Highway in Cooper Landing. Troopers arrived on scene and contacted the operator of the vehicle Rita Hall, age 64 of Girdwood. During the contact, a Trooper investigation revealed Hall was impaired. She was arrested for Driving Under the Influence and remanded at the Seward Jail with a $500 bond.

Missing Person (UPDATE)

GIRDWOOD—October 7, the family of missing person Valerie Sifsof reported finding a sweatshirt belonging to Sifsof on the water’s edge of Six Mile Creek. Troopers responded to the area and retrieved a sweatshirt Sifsof was reportedly wearing the day she was last seen. The sweatshirt was located a half mile downriver from the Granite Creek Campground. At the end of August, a kayaker reported finding a shirt that belonged to Sifsof and suspected to be on her when she disappeared. Both clothing items were found in the same general area of Six Mile Creek. The area has been inundated with rains and high water conditions since the shirt was discovered in August. On Oct. 1, a Trooper flew over the area in search of Sifsof and counted four large logjams in vicinity where the clothing was found. Troopers will search the area using cadaver dogs as soon as conditions allow.

Search and Rescue/Boating Fatality

TWENTYMILE RIVER—October 8 at approximately 5:08 p.m., the Soldotna Public Safety Communications Center received a 911 call from Ronald Cone, 55, of Anchorage. Ronald reported he, Nathan Cone, 29, of Anchorage, Harold Moore, 69, of Seward were boating up Twentymile River when the boat overturned in the water. Ronald Cone and Nathan Cone made it to shore and last saw Harold Moore floating down in the river. Two troopers and a U.S. Forest Service Officer responded to the location approximately 4.5 miles upriver from the Seward Highway in a U.S. Forest Service jet boat. While en route to rescue Ronald and Nathan, Moore’s body was located. Moore’s body was retrieved while Ronald and Nathan were rescued. The two men were not injured just cold and wet. All three were transported to the highway. Ronald and Nathan were evaluated by medics on scene and declined further medical attention.

Moore’s body was picked up by the State Medical Examiner and next of kin was notified. Moore was wearing a floatation suit and Ronald was wearing personal floatation device. Nathan was not wearing any type of PFD. An investigation into the accident revealed they were traveling upriver in a 16-foot aluminum boat when the prop became stuck on a log. As the current pushed the boat backwards into the logjam, the rear end of the boat filled with water, and sunk the boat.

Boating Fatality

PORTAGE LAKE—October 9 at around 10:30 a.m., Soldotna dispatch received a 911 call reporting a lost boater in Portage Lake. An initial investigation revealed brothers Dave and Larry Dobson had canoed to the south side of Portage Lake on Oct. 8 to spend the afternoon hiking and gold panning. When they returned from their hiking excursion that day, the brothers discovered the canoe floating in the lake away from the shore.

Larry Dobson, 50, of Sterling, jumped in the lake to swim and retrieve the canoe. During the swim at around 150 feet out, he began to struggle and turned around to swim back to shore, but eventually disappeared beneath the water surface, said Trooper spokesperson Beth Ipsen.

Dave Dobson, 51, of Sterling, jumped in to try and save his brother, but returned to the shoreline shortly afterward.

The terrain on that end of the lake prevented Dave Dobson from hiking back to the parking lot. Dave spent the night camped on the lakeshore.

Sometime the next morning, the canoe drifted back to shore. Dave retrieved it, paddled back across the lake to the parking lot where a family member, who came looking for the overdue brothers, met him. Dave Dobson was taken by Whittier ambulance for treatment of hypothermia.

Alaska State Trooper, a Whittier police officer and U.S. Forest Service officer responded to the area and conducted a preliminary search of the lake with a U.S. Forest Service jet boat. The following day, Oct. 10, a search continued with a Whittier police officer, a trooper and two U.S. Forest Service people using two boats dragging the area of the lake where his brother last saw Larry Dobson, but no body was found. A Helo-3 helicopter flew over Portage Lake and the creek.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, a Helo-1 helicopter flew over the creek and lake, and cadaver dogs were also used, but still no body was found.

A lot of iceberg chunks floating on the lake and into the creek from the Portage Glacier calving and silty water hindered the search, said Ipsen.

The search was scheduled to continue Tuesday, Oct. 16, but was cancelled due to bad weather conditions.

There are 3-4 inches on the ground and it’s “snowing like crazy,” said Girdwood Trooper Sgt. Zweifel. Those set to be involved in the search included two troopers, a Forest Service person and Forest Service boat, along with six divers from the Central Emergency Services dive team out of Soldotna and a Mat-SAR dog handler (without dog) to help guide to the search area the dogs were interested in on Sunday, said Ipsen.

The search will resume when the weather improves.

Motor Vehicle Collision Involving a School Bus

GIRDWOOD—October 11 at about 2:50 p.m., Troopers in Girdwood responded to a report of a motor vehicle crash involving a school bus. An investigation revealed that an Anchorage School District bus driven by Koretta M. Ioane, 53, of Anchorage rear-ended a 1990 Toyota truck driven by Calum C. Denuptiis, 17, of Girdwood as he was stopped for construction in the southbound lane at mile 93.5 of the Seward Highway. The force of the collision sent the Toyota truck into the rear of a 1986 GMC utility truck driven by Ryan A. Hunt, 25, of Anchorage. This truck was also stopped for construction. Ioane had 32 Service High School students headed home on board at the time of the crash.

No one reported injuries sustained in the collision. The Toyota truck was totaled and the GMC truck suffered minor damage to its bumper. The bus also suffered significant damage to its right front corner. Ioane was cited for failure to exercise due care to avoid a collision. The crashed occurred in a Highway Safety Corridor.


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