|Family of Fisherman Lost at Sea Clings to Hope|
|By ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||Aug 5, 2013, 4:10 PM|
Two days after the Coast Guard called off the search for Fred Swenson, a Montesano, Wash., man who disappeared along with two friends in rough seas off Alaska, his friends and family aren't giving up hope a boater may yet find him at sea.
"To hear this tragedy is something we had a hard time taking in because it seems so surreal," Swenson's brother-in-law, Mike Clark, told ABC Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV.
"If anybody could do it ... that's how we feel about Fred," friend Kelly Rogers told KOMO-TV. "Fred could do it."
Swenson and his friends Dennis Monroe, 46, also of Montesano, and John Reid, 44, of Sitka, Alaska, went out on a fishing trip Thursday afternoon to fish for sockeye salmon in Redfish Bay before making their way towards Baranof Island's southern tip, according to a statement from the Alaska State Troopers.
The trio ended up overshooting the bay and tried to turn around, but their 24-foot boat sank when they got caught up in the rough waters, a spokesman for the state troopers said.
"The water had gotten pretty rough and waves were coming over the bow of the boat, which basically caused the vessel to significantly lift before it sank," Alaska State Troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain said. "[The men] were able to get into a life raft, but the rough sea conditions were too much for that as well."
Monroe, Swenson and Reid were separated at sea, DeSpain said. While they were all wearing life jackets, Monroe was the only one who made it to shore. He was able to flag down a fishing boat Friday morning, and traveled nearly 70 miles on the water back to Sitka.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard, Canadian officials and volunteer boats went out to search for Swenson and Reid on Friday and Saturday.
Rescuers found Reid's body seven miles offshore at approximately 5:40 p.m. Saturday, according to the Alaska State Troopers. His body was flown to Sitka, where he was identified by investigators, DeSpain said.
His body was sent to the state medical examiner's office in Anchorage, Alaska, where it was inspected this morning, state medical examiner spokesman Greg Wilkinson said. Wilkinson said he could not reveal the cause and manner of Reid's death.
The Coast Guard said it made the decision to suspend its search for Swenson Saturday night just hours after finding Reid, saying officers had spent approximately 47 hours and covered more than 1,224 square miles in their attempts to locate him.
"Suspending a case is one of the hardest decisions that we as search and rescuers have to make and our thoughts and prayers are with the families," said Scott Giard, a command duty officer with Coast Guard Sector Juneau. "We appreciate the support of our partner agencies and good Samaritans to put as many resources on scene as possible and maximize our chances of locating these boaters."
Swenson's wife, Kathleen Swenson, declined to comment to ABCNews.com.