Body of missing shipwrecked gold miner found

One person still missing

UPDATE: On Sunday, Oct. 18, at 12:42 p.m. Nome Search and Rescue Volunteers located the body of Serhii Denysenko, 56, on the beach near Darby Creek, west of Cape Nome. The ship wreck site was on the east site of Cape Nome, about eight miles from where Denysenko was found. The remains were sent to the State Medical Examiner. Alexei Klutchnikov, 52, is still missing.

On Thursday, October 15, evening a mining vessel capsized offshore in rough seas between Safety Sound or Cape Nome. One miner, Pavel Denisenko, 51, made to shore on his own and was found.

According to Nome Volunteer Fire Dept. and Search and Rescue Chief Jim West Jr., the department was notified on Thursday evening. One of the miners made it ashore and was picked up by a person driving on the Nome-Council Road who then called the authorities to report the shipwreck and the two other missing miners.

West said Pavel Denisenko was taken to Norton Sound Regional Hospital for a health check as he may have been hypothermic. The man was checked over and released from the hospital. Two SAR volunteers were dispatched to the ER to find out from the man where exactly the shipwreck occurred. According to West, the miner said that there were three people on board the boat, they were mining at Bluff since October 9 and were on their way back to Nome when a rogue wave hit their vessel and knocked him out of the boat. He said, the life raft was dispatched, he used all the energy he could muster to get into the life raft and then proceeded to toss wetsuits to the remaining two miners onto the boat. He said, that was the last he saw of them. According to an Alaska State Trooper dispatch, all three men went into the water when the wave capsized the boat. Pavel Denisenko estimated that he drifted in the churned up stormy sea for about an hour until he reached the beach, got out and managed to make it to the road, where he was picked up by a motorist who passed by.

Nome SAR responded with 25 volunteers who went to scour the area from Cape Nome to Safety Sound. They came upon a quarter-mile long section of the beach, about three miles east of Cape Nome, littered with mining gear, the life raft, gold pans, a propane tank neoprene suits and floatation devices. At the time the wind was blowing 25-35 mph out of the southeast. The Coast Guard responded by sending a C-130 airplane up from Kodiak and a Jayhawk helicopter from Kotzebue. Once the plane and helicopter arrived in the middle of the night, they proceeded to search the area and found nothing.

No boats were launched to assist in the search as the waters were too rough.

West said that while volunteers were scouring the beach and checking into cabins along the coast to see if the miners made it ashore and hunkered down in one of the subsistence cabins there, the boat washed up at 11:45 p.m., but was still too far in the surf zone for people to safely get to. On Friday morning, after day break, SAR volunteers went back and found the boat closer to shore but still not safely accessible. After asking property owners for access and getting permission to use a backhoe from the nearby Sound Quarry, they managed to pull the boat closer to shore, but didn’t find anybody on board.

West described the vessel as a 32-foot former fishing boat, converted into a mining dredge. “We found nobody in the main cabin,” he said.

The Coast Guard helicopter and plane returned to their bases.

NVFD SAR volunteers continue to search in the area.

West reminded mariners and outdoor travelers to check the weather before embarking on outdoor activities.

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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