Two Unalakleet boaters found dead after two-day search
Two Unalakleet men, 55-year-old Peter Nanouk, and his nephew, 35-year-old Justin Nanouk, were found dead on a beach near the Golsovia River on June 13.
The men left Unalakleet by boat on the morning of Saturday, June 10, to set a fish net near St. Michael, according to a U.S. Coast Guard press release. When they did not return by Sunday evening, the Alaska State Troopers were contacted.
The search was a joint effort between the Troopers, USCG and community members from Unalakleet and St. Michael. Volunteers from St. Michael conducted a search by boat on Monday, June 12, but could not locate the men. On Tuesday, more volunteer boats assisted in the search and the Coast Guard flew in a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Kodiak.
Eventually, the boat belonging to Peter Nanouk, a 22-foot open-top ocean vessel, was found swamped. The bodies were soon located in the same general area, on the beach of the Golsovia River, according to Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters. The bodies were sent to Anchorage for autopsies, but foul play is not suspected. “As sad as the day ended we are thankful that a full recovery was made and all returned to Unalakleet this evening,” reads a post from the Unalakleet Joint Response Group’s Facebook page.
Peters said they do not know how or why the boat got swamped, or even what day the accident happened on. She added that, although it was nice out on Sunday, with two-mile-per-hour winds and two-foot seas, there was rain, wind and rough water on Monday.
The elder Nanouk worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for about 15 years. Many ADF&G employees praised Nanouk for his quiet honesty, dependability, work ethic and humor. “Peter liked to stay in the background quietly getting things done,” said ADF&G Area Management Biologist Jim Menard.
He also brought local knowledge of both the people and the animals of Unalakleet and the Southern Norton Sound, which greatly benefited the department. “His candidness with locals gave (ADF&G) more credibility than we would have ever earned on our own,” Nome Wildlife Regional Supervisor Tony Gorn wrote.