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2 Alaska deaths due to snowmobilers falling into open water

BETHEL, Alaska — Authorities in western Alaska say two people died after falling into open water while driving snowmobiles.

Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Tuesday that the separate deaths of Joseph Kernak and 41-year-old Eric Phillips during the week beginning March 10 were the result of driving snowmobiles over unmarked areas of water.

Police say Kernak and his girlfriend drove into water near a lake March 10 and became soaked at below freezing temperatures. Search and rescue volunteers brought Kernak to a nearby community, where he succumbed to hypothermia March 11.

Authorities say they recovered the body of Phillips after locating a damaged snowmobile a few days after Kernak’s death.

Warmer temperatures have reportedly weakened ice on the Kuskokwim River, the main travel route for area residents.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

The Associated Press