A day of paddling on a picturesque lake in Alaska turned deadly yesterday: The bodies of three German tourists were recovered from Valdez Glacier Lake on Tuesday afternoon, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The lake is a popular destination for paddlers in the summer, and offers impressive views of the Valdez Glacier. The victims were initially spotted by a kayak guide shortly before 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and the bodies were recovered later that afternoon. Although their identities have not been released, Sheri Pierce, a spokeswoman for the city of Valdez, said they were a 67-year-old married couple and a 62-year-old man.
Although no cause of death has been determined yet, authorities suspect the trio may have paddled too close to the glacier. The glacier’s ice is calving, meaning large chunks are falling off and plummeting into the water. One of these icebergs could have damaged their inflatable canoe or knocked them into the water. The falling ice actually prevented rescuers from reaching the bodies sooner.
“It’s dangerous getting near the face of glaciers like that,” Pierce told the Anchorage Daily News. “If they were knocked out of the boat due to a wake or a calving piece of ice, the water is very cold.”
Even a short time spent in the lake’s chilly water could lead to hypothermia. A water temperature sensor near the lake registered a frigid 48 degrees at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, according to data from the National Weather Service. Two of the bodies were found in the water, and the other was found resting atop an ice floe, Pierce said. All three of the victims were wearing life jackets.