Alaska trip ends in tragedy for Montesano men

Monroe spent a cold night clad only in a tank top, jeans and his life jacket, Ipsen said. The next day, he found a reflective fishing lure and used it to signal for help. He was picked up by a fishing boat, the Otter, and taken to Sitka.

The Coast Guard, Canadian officials and volunteer boats searched for the missing men. One boat Saturday found Reid’s body, which was retrieved by a Coast Guard helicopter. Searchers were unable to find Swenson before calling off the mission Saturday night.

“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,” Scott Giard, a command duty officer with Coast Guard Sector Juneau, said in a news release. “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.”

The Anchorage Daily News reached Monroe at his Sitka hotel room.

“I really don’t want to talk about it while I’m here,” Monroe said. “It’s pretty messed up right now.”

He and Swenson had flown to Alaska on Thursday morning, along with a third man from Washington, Tim Decker. The men were friends from their days at Montesano High School, said Ken Decker, Tim’s father.

In Sitka, they met Reid, 44, another classmate who had moved to the town 15 years ago and worked as a commercial fisherman.

“They go way back a long ways,” Ken Decker told the newspaper. “(Reid) lives there in Sitka. The others go up occasionally to visit and fish, and just do recreational things.”

Kathleen Swenson, Fred’s wife, said Saturday she was planning to stay in Washington with her two sons and wait for more news of her missing husband.

“We’ve got a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old, little boys. I’ve got to be (at home),” she said.