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Coast Guard Rescues Two in Alaska

November 14, 1999

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ A Coast Guard helicopter plucked two brothers and another fisherman from the icy waters of the Gulf of Alaska early Saturday after their fishing boat sank, and searchers were scanning the dark, windswept waves for a third brother.

A distress beacon from the 52-foot Becca Dawn was picked up by the Coast Guard stations in Juneau and Sitka at about 11 p.m. Friday, said Petty Officer Roger Wetherell.

The vessel went down in 20-foot seas and 40-knot winds in the Fairweather Grounds, a fishing area about 70 miles southeast of Yakutat known for its fierce storms.

About 80 minutes later, a helicopter found Lee Nash, 25, Song Nash, 26, and Jesse McGraw, 23, in the water, all wearing survival suits, Wetherell said.

``Three of them were clinging together, the boat was gone,″ Wetherell said. ``There was just a huge debris field.″

The three rescued fishermen were treated for mild hypothermia, Wetherell said.

Olin Nash, 21, was also wearing a survival suit, his brothers told the Coast Guard, but he became separated from the rest as the crew abandoned the boat. Rescuers hope he managed to launch the Becca Dawn’s life raft and remains adrift somewhere.

``If he was in a raft, that thing is drifting like crazy,″ Wetherell said.

Three helicopters and two airplanes searched the area, but were hampered by the long November night.

Petty Officer Jim Barber said two helicopters and two C-130 airplanes searched all day Saturday, and expected to continue until after dark. If necessary, the aircraft will resume the search at first light Sunday.

Barber said wind in the search area was blowing up to 40 mph, whipping up seas to 40 feet at times.

``It’s pretty bad out there,″ he said late Saturday afternoon.

Although an unprotected man will die within minutes in Alaska’s frigid waters, a properly sealed survival suit can keep a person floating and alive for hours.

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