49 Alaskans finish Boston Marathon: A fitting 49 Alaskans finished an emotional Boston Marathon Monday, the first running of the event since bombs cut the race short in 2013. Leading the Alaskans was Anchorage runner Tom Ritchie, 40, who cruised to 194th overall in 2 hours 35 minutes and 27 seconds, more than three minutes faster than his time in Boston two years ago. He was followed about a minute later by Fairbanks runner Rick Lader, 28, who finished in 216th place. The first Alaska woman to cross the line was Juneau's Crystal Dooley in 3 hours, 9 minutes and 29 seconds, making her the 340th woman to cross the line. Thomas McCarthy, 60, of Anchorage, brought up the rear for Alaska runners, finishing in 6 hours, 23 minutes, 58 seconds.
Child sexual abuse conviction: A 62-year-old Anchorage man has been convicted of sexually abusing his 4-year-old granddaughter in 2011, according to a press release from the Anchorage District Attorney’s office. The office withheld the defendant’s name to protect the victim. The older man let his homeless daughter and her children live with him at an Anchorage apartment, but the daughter was worried because her father had previously sexually abused a young girl in the family and thought it might happen again, the press release says. The daughter’s fears proved true, and she called Anchorage police on September 29, 2011, to report that she’d seen the defendant sexually abuse the 4-year-old. The unidentified man, who was found guilty of a single second-degree sexual abuse of a minor charge, faces a 99-year sentence.
Kodiak police bust 2 minors, adult with heroin and cash: On Saturday, the same day the Kodiak Police Department made its biggest drug bust in the department’s history, three males were also busted for allegedly carrying heroin and thousands in cash. Alexander Velasco-Ayala, 20, was pulled over Saturday for speeding, and was found to be in violation of limitations on his driver’s license, according to a release from Kodiak police. During the traffic stop, a drug enforcement detective noticed that a passenger in the vehicle, a 16-year-old male, was manipulating something in his pocket, which police said turned out to be $3,300 in cash, folded and segregated in a way the detective recognized as consistent with money carried for dealing illegal drugs. Velasco-Ayala then allegedly dropped another bundle of cash on the ground and tried to kick it under a police vehicle. That cash totaled $4,500. The other passenger, a 17-year-old male, was placed into custody, and during a pat search the detective saw a small plastic baggie in his open jacket pocket that later tested positive as heroin. The baggie contained 4.6 grams of the drug. During subsequent interviews, the 17-year-old surrendered an additional baggie containing 5.1 grams of heroin and $1,729 in cash, police reported. Estimated street value of all the seized heroin was $2,900.
Busy Monday for the Coast Guard: Two Coast Guard rescues were underway on Monday, one near Sitka in Southeast Alaska, and another roughly 300 miles south of Kodiak in the Gulf of Alaska. The Coast Guard rescued two men from a grounded 50-foot fishing vessel that ran aground roughly 10 miles west of Sitka Monday morning. No injuries or damage to the vessel were reported, and the plan is to refloat the vessel Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard was preparing to rescue three mariners from a cargo vessel 300 miles south of Kodiak. A wave had crashed onto the ship Sunday en route from Oregon to Japan, throwing three crew members across the deck and leaving them injured. Two Jayhawk helicopters planned to evacuate the three men sometime between 3 to 6 p.m., and take them to Kodiak, where they would be medevaced to Anchorage.
Father, son hole up in cabin after aircraft accident: A father and son spent Sunday night in a cabin on the west side of Cook Inlet after an aircraft accident grounded them. According to Alaska State Troopers, 34-year-old David Hill and his 15-year-old son left the Birchwood Airport, north of Eagle River, at about 3 p.m. Sunday. A few hours later, their SPOT emergency beacon was activated in the vicinity of Tuxedni Bay, on the west side of Cook Inlet, across from the Kenai Peninsula. Hill sent a satellite text message to his wife that the aircraft had been "bent" and that he and the teen would spend the night in a cabin near the crash site. Troopers responded Monday morning around 7 a.m. and reported finding the two uninjured. The aircraft had been caught in a "ground loop" -- in which one of an aircraft's wings rises while the other approaches the ground, often striking the ground with a wing tip, causing the plane to spin while on the ground, during taxiing, landing or takeoff. In this case, the ground loop caused damage to the wing and tail.
Grizzlies starting to roam Anchorage Hillside: The grizzly bear in the garbage outside an Anchorage Hillside home Sunday night was a reminder that sense is not common. The animal had visited before. The homeowner picked up the garbage it scattered around his yard and put it in a bag in the back of a pickup truck, apparently somehow thinking the garbage would be safer there. It wasn't. Grizzly bears can jump into the bed of a pickup truck with ease. Officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game planned to talk to the homeowner on Monday. Meanwhile, officials were reminding residents of the state's largest city that it is illegal to feed bears, either intentionally or accidentally. To avoid accidental feedings, garbage, bird seed, dog food, chickens and other bear attractants should be kept somewhere bears can't get at them -- in the garage maybe or, in the case of chickens, behind electric fences. It's probably also a good idea to keep the garage door closed. Only days ago, a woman in Florida was mauled by a food-conditioned black bear in her garage after she left the door open. Black bears are generally placid animals one can shoo off with a broom. Not so grizzlies, which are as likely to attack as flee when confronted.
Up to 32 percent of wild-caught fish are caught illegally: Just because it’s wild caught doesn’t mean it’s sustainable. That’s the takeaway from the findings of a new study that looked at the origins of imported seafood, recently reported in the Washington Post. The study, published in the journal Marine Policy, found that between 20 and 32 percent of a variety of wild species imported in the U.S. -- including salmon, pollock crab and shrimp -- are illegally caught in unsustainable fisheries. The complexity of the global fish market -- the Post piece gave as one example a fishery in which Scottish shrimp were frozen, shipped to China to be processed using that country’s lower labor costs, then returned to Scotland -- can make tracking the origin of fish tricky. And because it consumes more seafood than any other country, the U.S. is a prime market for illegal fisheries, if companies can manage to obscure the fish’s origin. One of the study’s researchers admitted to the Post he was surprised by how high the numbers were, and scientists worry about the effect on global fisheries, since 85 percent of legal fisheries are already at or beyond their biological limits, the study noted.
Ancient soil beneath ice cap revises our knowledge of glaciers: Below two miles of ice in Greenland, scientists have found evidence that the land their once supported a tundra much like that which now covers Alaska’s Brooks Range -- but well before the most recent ice age. The finding changes our understanding of glaciers and how they work, NPR reports, since we usually think of them as “work(ing) like a belt sander,” in the words of a University of Vermont press release on the finding. The scientists believe the soil is about 2.7 million years old. The preservation of that soil may mean that the sheet survived intervening periods of global warming intact, though scientists warn that doesn’t mean it will do so again.
Petition to send Alaska to Russia misses deadline for Obama response: After failing to attract enough votes in the allotted time to trigger a response from the White House, a petition that had asked the state be allowed to secede from the United States and reunited with Russia has been removed from the site, reports The Voice of Russia. The petition feature at whitehouse.gov allows users to create petitions, but this one garnered far fewer than the 100,000 votes required to generate a response, getting just 42,000 by the April 20 deadline. A similar petition demanding the secession of Texas (though not its accession to Russia) got 125,000, and an official response. The Alaska petition comes amid the ongoing territorial crisis in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week during a public question and answer session that Alaska was too cold to annex.