JUNE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaskan fishing adventure turned into a nightmare for a family of eight when disaster struck one of their two chartered boats over Memorial Day weekend, killing three and two. more missing despite a desperate search across hundreds of square miles of ocean.
Tragedy tore the Tyau family apart: Two sisters and one of their husbands are dead, while the other’s partner and the ship’s captain are still missing in southeast Alaska four days after the ship was found partially submerged off the coast an island.
Authorities on Monday called off a more than 20-hour search covering 2,100 square kilometers (825 square miles) and have no plans to resume it.
The women’s parents, older brother and sister-in-law were on the other charter boat as part of a three-day trip to a fishing destination known for king salmon and groundfish.
The sisters and their sister-in-law didn’t like fishing, but they joined the vacation to spend more time with a family that was usually split between Hawaii and Los Angeles.
“It was supposed to be a simple family reunion for eight of us, since we haven’t been in the same place together for a long time,” Michael Tyau, the older brother, told The Associated Press on Thursday. “For it to turn out like this is really devastating.”
The Tyau siblings, Michael, Brandi and Danielle, grew up fishing in Hawaii with their parents. Michael Tyau said his sisters hated the cold and wet, but would put up with it for their water-loving parents and later for his partners.
Brandi Tyau’s longtime partner Robert Solis, a Navy diver turned private investigator who was stationed in Hawaii when they met decades ago, was someone for whom “the ocean really was his life,” one of the brothers said. de Solis.
So when the Tyau brothers’ mother suggested a family trip last year, she won a fishing vacation to Sitka Sound.
“I think my sisters reluctantly agreed,” said Michael Tyau.
He and his wife flew from Los Angeles to Alaska on Thursday with Brandi Tyau, 56, and Solis, 61. They were reunited with their parents, sister Danielle Agcaoili, 53, and her husband, Maury Agcaoili, 57. years old, all from Hawaii. residents
The entire family stayed at a lodge owned by Kingfisher Charters in Sitka. The small port town set against the backdrop of an impressive volcanic mountain lies on the coast of Baranof Island, part of a group of islands that stretch off the southeast coast of Alaska.
The area is a “premier fishing destination” for tourists because the many bays and passageways created by the islands provide protection from wind and waves on days when the open sea is too rough, Kingfisher Charters says in its website.
Forrest Braden, executive director of the Southeast Alaska Girl Guides Organization, said anglers often stay for several days on trips to the region.
“It’s more of a fishing-themed trip for a lot of people, rather than just one of the various activities they do,” he said.
The ships chartered by the Tyau clan, called Pockets and Awakin, left on Friday amid difficult conditions. Michael Tyau said his sisters and his wife spent the day’s voyage seasick in the cabins of the two ships and skipped Saturday’s voyage to recuperate on land.
As dawn broke on Sunday, their last day of vacation before flights home on Monday, the women rejoined the boats.
Danielle Agcaoili said she “didn’t want to let anyone down,” Michael Tyau recalled through tears.
The boat captains chose different fishing spots. Aboard the Pockets, Michael Tyau said that he “did not feel in any way in danger, like it wasn’t safe for us to fish.”
The Pockets returned to the shelter Sunday night, but the family grew concerned when Brandi Tyau, Danielle Agcaoili, Maury Agcaoili and Solis did not return text messages and never made it to dinner.
The Awakin had not returned, the charter company told Michael Tyau, and they lost radio contact with the captain, 32-year-old Morgan Robidou.
What happened aboard the Awakin on Sunday remains unclear. Efforts to recover the 30-foot (9-meter) aluminum vessel have been hampered by rough seas and strong winds.
The bodies of Brandi Tyau and Danielle Agcaoili were found inside the cabin. Maury Agcaoili’s body was discovered near the ship. Solís and Robidou were still considered missing on Thursday.
The boat was last seen Sunday afternoon near Sitka, authorities said, but around 7 p.m. Sunday it was found partially submerged off Low Island, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Sitka.
Coast Guard investigators are working to determine the timeline and cause of the incident. The area was experiencing waves of 6 to 11 feet (1.8 to 3.35 meters), a Coast Guard spokesman said.
Kingfisher Charters declined to answer questions outside of a statement released Wednesday saying the company is “devastated by the loss of the Awakin’s guests and captain” and is cooperating fully with an investigation that it hopes “will provide answers to questions about how occurred”. .”
For the Tyau family, it is too late. The deaths of Brandi Tyau, the reserved middle child who was a calming influence on Solis, and Danielle Agcaoili, the happy-go-lucky baby of the family often referred to as “Dani,” have been devastating.
Brandi Tyau and Solis leave behind a son together, as well as Solis’s three children from a previous relationship. The Agcaoili have two sons, one of whom has just graduated from high school.
The family’s vacation was meant for them to enjoy a holiday weekend and bridge the gap between their homes in Hawaii and Los Angeles.
“I don’t think the eight of us have been together in more than 10 years,” said Michael Tyau.
Now there are only four left.
Dazio reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press News researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed.