The will to live - Soundings Online

The will to live

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APRIL 27 — Authorities say a former Alaska state legislator nearly died of hypothermia last weekend after spending a rainy night on a small island he swam to after falling overboard from his boat in Juneau’s AukeBay.

Bruce Weyhrauch, 54, was on board his 15-foot Boston Whaler Sunday when he apparently slipped on oil and fell overboard into the lake’s 40-degree water, an Associated Press news report says. He managed to swim to nearby CoghlanIsland where he waited, in cold wet clothes, to be rescued. The island is reportedly within sight of Weyhrauch’s waterfront home. He was wearing a PFD.

“In the middle of the night, when you're wracked with chills, it's intense," Weyhrauch says in a report. "You have to know that all things work to good. You have to live. You have to have attitude. You can't give up.”

Weyhrauch had dropped his two sons off at a beach near their house and was headed to a nearby harbor when the accident happened. “He hit his head on the center console, fell sideways and rolled into the water,” an Alaska state trooper says in the report. “His first thought was to get back to the boat, but when he turned around it was out of his reach.”

Weyhrauch was reported missing Sunday evening after the crew of another boat spotted his unmanned Whaler with the engine running, the report says. Coast Guard authorities searched 10 square miles. Weyhrauch was found, nearly unresponsive, on the island by a member of a local search team. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment for hypothermia.

Jason Fell