Juneau police want to interview accident witnesses

Flowers dot the lake near the boat launch Wednesday. Photo by Jim Mahan.

Juneau police are still looking for witnesses to Saturday’s accident on Auke Lake, which resulted in a teenage girl’s death.

Police Lieutenant Kris Sell says officers have interviewed a number of people who were on the lake that afternoon, but not everybody saw the inner tube / jet ski collision. Sell says police are specifically looking for witnesses to the accident.

Sixteen-year-old Savannah Cayce died Monday from a severe head injury. She and another teenage girl were being towed in an inner tube by a jet ski. Police say the inner tube swung out and hit another jet ski.

Once Juneau police conclude their investigation, the CBJ Parks and Recreation Advisory Board plans a review of current regulations, adopted by the city in 2007.

“All of Juneau uses that lake for different recreational uses, you know for motorized/non-motorized, (and) swimming, so I think we need to find space for everybody, but in a safe way,” said Jeff Wilson, PRAC chairman.

Auke Lake management issues are the topic of a news conference scheduled this afternoon (Friday) by City Manager Kim Kiefer and Police Chief Greg Browning.

The conflict over Auke Lake use has gone on for 30 years, said PRAC member Tom Rutecki. He was also on the board during the 2006 / ’07 debates.

“Density is really the issue,” Rutecki said.

He said the city should look at studies done in other states since the advent of high speed personal watercraft, such as jet skis.

Since the accident, Juneau officials have received a number of comments from citizens concerned about safety on the lake. Some advocate additional buoy markers that delineate the section where motor boats can operate. Others say the few buoys have simply become a slalom course for jet skis.

PRAC Chairman Wilson said the board has a number of issues to review – from signage to the number of buoys to whether the lake should be restricted to non-motorized use, such as kayaking and swimming.

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