Authorities identify remains of Juneau man who has been missing since 2017

James Cole talks about his surprise at having to leave the Bergmann Hotel on Friday, March 10, 2017 in Juneau, Alaska. Tenants were kicked out after the city condemned the building for ongoing health and safety issues. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska's Energy Desk)
James Cole talks about his surprise at having to leave the Bergmann Hotel on Friday, March 10, 2017 in Juneau, Alaska. Tenants were kicked out after the city condemned the building for ongoing health and safety issues. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Authorities have identified human remains found nearly two years ago on a downtown Juneau seawalk near the state Department of Labor building as one of two missing men thought to have drowned four years ago.

On Thursday, the state’s crime lab said they belong to James Christopher Cole. 

Cole has been missing since 2017 when a skiff he was riding in capsized near Aurora Harbor. Three people and a dog made it safely to shore but Cole and another man, Sheridan Scott Stringer were never found. 

Cole was 50 years old at the time that he disappeared. He and others in the boat were headed to the Lumberman, a derelict tugboat that was anchored in Gastineau Channel. That boat was used as a liveaboard for years. 

Nine months before he disappeared, Cole was one of about 50 tenants displaced from the Bergmann Hotel after it was condemned by the City and Borough of Juneau over health and safety hazards. Cole told KTOO at the time that he wasn’t sure where to go. 

Juneau police Lt. Krag Campbell said Friday that authorities are in touch with Cole’s next of kin who will decide what to do with his remains. Until then, his body will remain at the state medical examiner’s office. 

Correction: Cole’s remains were found nearly two years ago in January 2020. 

Rashah McChesney

Daily News Editor

I help the newsroom establish daily news priorities and do hands-on editing to ensure a steady stream of breaking and enterprise news for a local and regional audience.

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