Accident Database

Report ID# 4078

  • Flush Drowning
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold Water

Accident Description

 Virginia boy identified as person who died in Alaska river

By Associated Press

Aug 09, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers say the boy who died in a weekend rafting accident was from Virginia.Troopers on Monday identified the boy as 14-year-old Joseph Cantler. His hometown was not immediately available.The boy and his brother, 30-year-old Seth Cantler of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, at about 7 p.m. Sunday were rafting on Eagle River when their raft capsized.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Fire Department personnel rescued the older brother. "JBER Fire Department responded and rescued the 30-year-old, who was transported to an Anchorage hospital for treatment and later released without injury," troopers said. Troopers were notified of a search for the boy just before 10 p.m. The Rescue Coordination Center began an air search and he was found at about 2:15 a.m. Monday in Cook Inlet near the river. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Rafting accident claims life of local teen, Joey Cantler

A 14-year-old Waynesboro boy spending the summer with his eldest brother in Alaska died after their raft capsized in the Eagle River near Anchorage Sunday evening.

By Shawn Hardy

Posted Aug. 12, 2016

14-year-old Waynesboro boy spending the summer with his eldest brother in Alaska died after their raft capsized in the Eagle River near Anchorage Sunday evening. Searchers found Joseph Stephen “Joey” Cantler early Monday morning in the Cook Inlet about 5 miles away, according to his mother Rebecca. The family also includes father Karl — a government contractor who arrived home from Afghanistan Thursday — and seven other siblings.

They are planning a private memorial service in their South Potomac Street home for Joey on Monday, Aug. 15, which would have been his 15th birthday. “We’re just going to celebrate his life,” his mother said. *** Adventurous and sociable *** Joey was the “mini-me” of 30-year-old Seth and was spending the summer with the U.S. Army first lieutenant station at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, according to their mother. She described them both as adventurous and sociable and said they would rather do things than talk about them. This summer, they hunted, hiked, camped and rafted. Joey also adored spending time with his 2-year-old niece, Emerson.

The pair was rafting in rapids when their raft flipped over around 7 p.m. Seth went backward and Joey when forward. Both were wearing their life jackets. As Seth floated by, he saw his younger brother standing in waist high water near the bank and yelled for him to wait there. When he hiked back, Joey was gone. Seth’s wife, Heather, was waiting on a bridge to pick them up and saw Joey float by unresponsive, according to his mother. Medical experts think the teen succumbed to hypothermia. Although he seemed OK when his brother passed him, “we think he probably fainted due to hypothermia,” his mother said.

*** About Joey *** Joey was active in the youth group at The LifeHouse in Hagerstown and had deep faith in Jesus.“Joseph was very vocal in his faith,” his mother said. “We know he is in heaven and that’s a tremendous comfort.“We are all together and doing pretty well,” she said. A Baptist church and the Army base in Alaska flew Seth, Heather and Emerson home with Joey’s ashes. They are with the rest of the Cantler siblings: Jared, 29; Joshua, 25; Noel, 22; Joy, 20; Justin, 17; Kaylee, 16; and Holly, 12.

Contact Shawn Hardy at or 717-762-2151.

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