The Loss

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The Po Thead
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The Loss

Post by The Po Thead » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:23 pm

[report]It's a bit of a story, but it needs to be told.
In the last two weeks, our friends and family lost three incredible people in our lives.

In memory of Jimmy Brown (26), Kelly(23) and Casey(26) Newman
You were all taken way too soon.
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It began with a hunting trip that we planned for over the Thanksgiving break. Casey and I were out of class for a few days, Kelly had already graduated and didn't have much to do, so we figured we would join my brother, and Jimmy's two other brothers and their family to spend a few days in a remote community about an hour float plane ride from Juneau, or about 7 hours away when riding on the ferry. Kelly, Casey and I rode the ferry over on Thanksgiving Day, and got into Tenakee Springs, SE AK, at about 3pm that afternoon. We met up with all our brothers, friends, and family and enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal, and then proceeded to party the rest of the night and enjoy what I didn’t realize at the time, was to be my last fond memories with Kelly and Casey and Jimmy. I remember on that night, talking with Kelly, Casey, Jimmy, and everyone else about what our hunting plans were for the next day. Kelly specifically mentioned to me that he didn't really care about the hunting, and just wanted to have a fun time. Every time I think about this, it just kills me inside, and how I wish Kelly and his brother would have had exactly that, a relaxing, enjoyable time hanging with good people, and maybe go out to find a Sitka Blacktail.
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Drinks for the Thanksgiving Party

The next morning, my brother and I hopped in one skiff to travel up the inlet, while Jimmy, Kelly and Casey left in another. The last that I saw of my good friends was traveling across the inlet, in very questionable weather conditions (3-5 foot seas with high winds and snow), in an 18ft Lund that leaked, and had an old shitty 50hp Mercury. My brother and I opted to stay on the north side of the inlet, as it was blowing strong northerly's and we wanted to be in the windblock of the mountains. We spotted several deer that day, and I missed a chance at a nice sized buck that was walking the beach line. I guess that happens sometimes while hunting though.

As we motored the 15-20 or so miles back to Tenakee, the weather was getting worse, and it was starting to get dark. Sunset during this time of the year has been around 2:30 or 3:00, so when we arrived back in town around then, we were a little miffed that Kelly, Casey and Jimmy hadn't gotten back yet. We tired hailing them on the VHF, and got no response, so we left it on channel 16 incase something happened. “Oh well,” we thought, if it does get dark, they’ll likely stay on the beach for the night. We didn't imagine them trying to get back in bad weather during the dark.

At some point between 4:45pm and 5:15pm, they were motoring back across the inlet on the kicker, as the main motor had died. Despite the rough weather, they miraculously made it across the inlet on the tiny engine. While Jimmy idled down the kicker to get something in the bottom of the boat, a wave came over the back of the Lund and sunk it instantly. The coast guard said the water temp at the time was 44 degrees, but having been diving recently, my computer has been reading a water temp of 37-40. So being in the water for any period of time with that kind of water temperature will cause severe hypothermia and death.

Kelly and Casey passed away in the accident while trying to get to shore, and Jimmy barely made it out of the water with his life. He managed to make it to shore, find someone in a cabin, and alert them that the other two were still in the water. When Jimmy was brought inside, his core body temp was 90 degrees, where 88 to 87 is the point of death. He was in the water for one and a half hours, and swam about 500yds. Kelly and Casey were still in the water, and the whole community went into search mode. With 8-12 boats searching in the water, there was about 30-40 people along with 5 or 6 4-wheelers combing the beach looking for debris. Kelly was found that night by a commercial seiner using high-pressure sodiums, but Casey's body sank to the bottom, in roughly 90ft of water, about 100ft from shore.

My brother and I spent hours along the beach trying to find our friends and at this point, we were both in a state of complete shock. I knew they were dead, they had been in that water for about two hours before a search even began, but I really couldn't feel anything, I was numb. It wasn't until the next morning, when I looked at their piles of clothes and gear, that I broke down and felt immense weight and sadness that I would never see two of my best friends ever again. The thought of having to bring their gear back to their parents, who were synonymous with my own, made my insides writhe even more. While I’m still young (23), and haven't had the time to experience anything such as this yet, I still think that bringing back Kelly and Casey’s belongings to their parents will be the hardest, most emotional thing I will ever do. While I lost two incredible friends, what’s the sadness and grief associated with losing both of your children? I don’t think I will ever comprehend this kind of pain.

It was later in the afternoon the day after the accident that divers recovered Casey’s body. At least they could both be sent back together, and one of them wasn't lost to the waters of Southeast Alaska.

The rest of us left Tenakee on Saturday evening, and returned back to Juneau.

With the immense pain and grief of watching two friends die, Jimmy returned to Juneau and proceeded to drink his pain away. He was found dead in the early morning hours on Monday, December 3rd, where he may have succumbed to alcohol poisoning, an overdose, or maybe a combination of both. I don't know exactly what occurred, and I don't plan on asking his brothers what happened. Despite making it out alive from such a dangerous situation, Jimmy still passed away. He was so lucky, yet he still fell in the end.
I just can't grasp it.

I feel I should apologize for pouring this all out with this rant, but I think that there are a few things that can be learned from everything that’s happened. First, I believe that complacency and bad judgment were involved with the death of Kelly and Casey. Because they had a bad VHF radio, they couldn’t contact us to let us know they were on the kicker coming back. Had they not crossed the inlet in the first place, or considered the condition of the boat with the amount of leaks and the unreliability of the motor, or considered the problems associated with three big guys in big water in a small boat, they might still be alive.

For those of us who recreate in areas where the inherent risks are high, we need to be prepared for situations where you might need to spend an unintended night in the woods. Had Kelly, Casey, and Jimmy been on the beach for the night, they might have been wet, and cold, and hungry, but they would probably still be alive. The second thing that I can take away from this time of great tragedy and pain is to not look to alcohol and drugs to cover the hurt. While I do enjoy getting drunk and toking up, and drinking a few beers now and then, I feel that if Jimmy had more clarity in his mind the days before he died, he may have been able to work with the people that cared for him and find a way to cope with this immense sadness. So please fellas, cherish your friends and the moments that you’ve had together. When in the outdoors, be safe and conservative. Assess the conditions and the possible outcomes, so that you and your friends will come back alive.

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Casey Newman, the red bearded dude on the far right

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Kelly enjoying a beer, out commercial fishing for brown king crab

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Jimmy back in 2003, he used to play football on the high school team. Didn't have any good photos of him.

Be safe, where ever you travel guys
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Rest in Peace Kelly and Casey Newman, and Jimmy Brown
I will miss you my brothers. ... MKhBpPjmf8 ... MKhIJPjmf8[/report]
Last edited by The Po Thead on Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Loss

Post by WanderingBlues » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:27 pm

Heart wrenching. Sip poured.
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Re: The Loss

Post by Hogleg » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:41 pm

Damn. Don't know what to say. That's a tragic loss of lives.

Hang in there man.

Sips poured.
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Re: The Loss

Post by Truchero » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:43 pm

An utter tragedy.

My condolences to you, Sir.

May your friends rest in peace.
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Re: The Loss

Post by burgerthumb » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:44 pm

Rest in Peace.

Your story honors them.
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Re: The Loss

Post by Yard Sale » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:45 pm

Damn dude. Sorry for your loss.
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Re: The Loss

Post by peetso » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:57 pm

po, sorry about your loss, hang in there.

three sips will be poured.
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Re: The Loss

Post by bullship » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:57 pm

Truly sorry for your loss. I've lost several close ones over the years. Take your time and take care of yourself and those who love you.

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Re: The Loss

Post by fallen513 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:59 pm

Condolences. That's a lot to swallow at 23. Make sure you're taking your own advice and taking care of yourself, too. You may be 23 years old physically, but you just hit 50 mentally. I hope you can find peace, and your friends & family can too.
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Re: The Loss

Post by Horn_Identity » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:02 pm

So sorry man. Peace be with you.

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Re: The Loss

Post by cantfishforshit » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:03 pm

Sorry for your loss. Keep your chin up and think of them when you go fishing.
Better be putting together one hell of a plan to survive this clusterfuck.

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Re: The Loss

Post by franzen » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:14 pm

Fuck... Truly sorry for your loss. Condolences.
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