A former Longview resident has died in a sport fishing accident off the Aleutian Islands hundreds of miles west of the Alaska mainland, according to his mother and press accounts.
David Long, 55, was recreational gillnet fishing with a friend about five miles off Unalaska when they ran into problems with their net and their boat, Jennifer Shockley, deputy chief and acting director of the Unalaska Police Department, told the Anchorage Daily News. The boat took on water and capsized shortly after 2:30 p.m., authorities said.
Long’s companion was able to swim ashore and get help. By the time the message reached public safety officials, it was about 4 p.m., Shockley said.
The accident, which remains under investigation, was first reported by an off-duty Alaska state trooper. Unalaska police, the Coast Guard and state public works officials responded.
Both men were wearing safety flotation devices, according to Shockley. She said it was a partly sunny day, with calm water conditions and a surface temperature of about 49 to 50 degrees.
An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday, according to Long’s mother, Joann Long of Longview.
Long was a longtime employee with Unisea Inc., a seafood processing company in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, according to his mother. He began working at Unisea in 2001 as a seafood processor, and was quickly promoted to a supervisory position, she said.
At the time of his death, Long was a supervisor overseeing inventory for the company, Chris Plaisance, vice president of corporate affairs at Unisea, told the Anchorage newspaper.
“He was a real organized guy, did a great job for us for that many years,” Plaisance said.
Long also loved to fish with friends, Plaisance said.
Joann Long said her son enjoyed his work and the Aleutian Islands. He had just purchased the boat in which the mishap took place. She assumes her son died of hypothermia because North Pacific waters near Alaska are so frigid.
Her son grew up in Longview and graduated from R.A. Long High school in the early 1980s.
He enjoyed the isolation of Unalaska and was compassionate and funny and took care of his employees, never allowing any bullying and especially looking after new employees, Long said.
Long and his wife, a native of the Philippines named Grace Long, were married nine years ago. They have no children. In addition to his mother, he is survived by his sister, Lori Long of Vancouver, and a nephew.