The fishing vessel Laura capsized Monday morning after striking rocks near Sitkalidak Island, at around 7am. The four-person crew safely boarded a life raft, but Grace, the vessel’s puppy had already jumped into the freezing water and was presumed lost. A Coast Guard UH-60 had swept a five-mile area but to no avail. They turned back to nearby Air Station Kodiak to return the crew to dry land.
The next day, another Coast Guard helicopter crew went over the area, looking for evidence of a fuel spill from the F/V Laura… and perhaps, holding onto a shred of hope that Grace might still be alive. Miracles sometimes do happen in Alaska- by the Grace of dog, she was on a nearby beach.
“So the dog was directly in front of the boat, off to the side a little bit on… a narrow beach with about 20 to 40 foot cliffs all around her. And I was able to find a way- we ended up landing- I was able to find a way to sort of scramble down that cliff to grab her,” Aguero said.
That’s Petty Officer Rafael Aguero with the United States Coast Guard. He’s the rescue swimmer who got that puppy off the beach.
“She was definitely in a little bit of a shock. Definitely hypothermic. So I looked up to her and I knew she was going to be okay. She wagged her tail a little bit. And then I went, picked her up and scrambled back up the cliffs back to the helicopter,” Aguero said.
Aguero and his crew found it amazing to find her unharmed.
“To go through those conditions and spend 36 hours alone in the wilderness like that on the beach with the cold and she was otherwise okay- from what I can tell. But it’s absolutely incredible that we found that dog,” Aguero said.
The dog was reunited with her owner at Air Station Kodiak around 1:30 pm. According to Aguero, Grace is an eight month old, 80-pound pit bull/ black lab mix. And she’s doing just fine.
Unfortunately, the ship hasn’t fared so well. The wreck is still on the rocks. And according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, a five-mile long oil sheen about a mile from where the Laura hit the rocks has been sighted. Spill responders say they are monitoring the situation- the vessel’s owner estimates that there was about 3,000 gallons of diesel aboard.