BIG LAKE— Alaska State Troopers are still searching Big Lake for a 21-year-old Anchorage man who went missing after falling overboard on Independence Day.
The missing person has been identified as Myles Williams, and his next of kin have been notified, according to AST Sargerant Ryan Anderson of the B Detachment. Troopers were notified of the incident around 3:57 a.m. July 4.
According to Anderson, Williams fell off the back of a boat and didn’t resurface. He said the boat operator and occupants attempted to search for Williams but were unable to locate him.
Anderson said a 16-year-old female was operating the boat, and several people were onboard the vessel. He said the driver had not been under the influence, but the other occupants were drinking alcohol. He said that Williams was apparently not wearing a lifevest and alcohol may have played a role in the incident.
“We’re still investigating what exactly happened,” Anderson said.
Crews from the Mat-Su Borough EMS Dive Team, MAT+SAR, and Alaska Dive Rescue have aided Troopers during the search.
Search teams are still making daily rounds across the lake looking for Williams’ body utilizing sonar scanners and divers, and they haven’t discovered any remains in the lake.
Anderson said there are two main challenges at play with this search. The first is pinpointing the actual location of where Williams went in.
“The location of the 911 call could be different from where he went in the water. Most of the time in my experience, when a human being goes into the water and they drown, their body fills with water. Generally speaking, they sink pretty much where they went in the water. We’re not talking about a river or an ocean with a large current. We’re talking about a lake,” Anderson said.
The second factor is covering a large amount of water with numerous obstacles in the dark depths.
Big Lake is true to its name. The area has a mean depth of 30 feet, a maximum depth of 89 feet, and 26 miles of shoreline, according to data from Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.
“If it still looks like it could be human then they have to get a diver in the water to go down and actually look at it, but at 70 feet deep it’s a pretty long dive and it’s really dark and the visibility is horrible… As they see these points of interest, it takes a lot of time to further investigate to confirm their body or rule them out,” Anderson said. “It’s not a fast process… They do have to do a search grid in the area.”
April said that search teams will continue recovery efforts around Burston Island and the surrounding area.
“We don’t want anyone else to find him in that matter,” AST Captain Tony April said. “It’s always tough for the family and tough for all of us because you want to find someone’s loved one so you can bring them home for some closure,” April said.
Troopers are still asking the public to avoid the search area and to call with any clues or tips.
This is a developing story. Continue to see frontiersman.com for more coverage.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com