A pastor from North Las Vegas was killed on Monday, July 30th in a canoe excursion accident during a cruise to Alaska, according to several news sources.
50-year-old Steven Todd Willis and his wife were reportedly on a cruise to Alaska celebrating the first anniversary of their marriage.
The news accounts state that an excursion company was taking, what has been reported to be, between nine and eleven passengers on a canoe tour when their canoe overturned in rapids. Four people were reportedly missing.
The incident occurred nine miles south of Haines. The first news account states that the canoe was being used for a guided tour for passengers from three different unidentified cruise ships.
One news account reports that one of the passengers was unresponsive at the scene. First responders reportedly performed CPR, but the passenger remained unconscious. Another account states that the passenger had sunk in deep water and could not be retrieved.
A third account states that the Coast Guard dispatched a Jayhawk helicopter from Sitka to search for the missing members of the tout. A Coast Guard crew reportedly pulled the body of Mr. Willis from the Davidson Glacier River, according to KTNV News.
KTNV states that “everyone on board wore life jackets.”
The owner of the excursion company, identified as AlaskaX Excursions, told the Skagway News that he has been cooperating with the authorities involved and will be conducting an investigation into the fatality.
KHNS FM reports that this excursion company “employs about 20 people year-round and 150 seasonal guides, running five tours around Haines, Skagway, and Juneau. That includes a canoe tour at Glacier Point, where they boat up to 15,000 cruise passengers each summer from Skagway to where the Davidson Glacier calves into a lake.”
KHNS further states that, according to an Alaska assembly member, “there have been specific, and credible, and very damning accounts” of the excursion company’s poor safety record, reportedly referring to a dozen former employees who have lodged complaints about the company’s operations. “They say the company prioritizes profit over the safety of employees and guests.”
The news articles do not state which cruise ship Mr. Willis and his wife had taken to Alaska.
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One Dead, 10 Safe After Canoe Overturns Near Haines via Juneau Empire.
Safety Complaints From Former Employees Pile Up Against Skagway Tour Company. via KHNS FM.