Reichel Uttereyuk 2007-07-06
Reaman Uttereyuk

Scammon Bay mourns 2 boys who drowned in fast river
BROTHERS: One likely fell into the water; the other tried to rescue him.

By KATIE PESZNECKER,, Published: July 9, 2007

The village of Scammon Bay will today honor two young brothers who drowned Friday -- one while attempting to save the other from the swift, cold current of the Kun River.

Eight-year-old Reaman and 10-year-old Reichel Uttereyuk went into the river Friday afternoon -- Reaman slipped and fell in, and Reichel plunged in after him, said Megan Peters, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman.

"And Reichel was also dragged into the water by the current," Peters said. "Both victims did not know how to swim."

On Sunday morning, the boys' open caskets sat in their Scammon Bay home for viewing. At the Uttereyuk family's request, the Rev. Jon Cardwell and the congregation came to the home for the morning church service. He presided with the boys' small coffins at his feet.

"Those two boys were like bread and butter," said Cardwell, a close family friend. "These two kids loved one another so much. They were very, very dear to me, and to many people here."

The evening church service was canceled.

The boys' funeral is today.

On a church message board over the weekend, after Reaman's body was found in the icy water tangled in a fishing net, Cardwell posted a message pleading for prayers for the boys' parents, John and Carolyn Uttereyuk. Along the Kun, the search was continuing for Reichel.

"These two boys and this entire family are very, very close to us," Cardwell wrote. "Deaths like this in the village affect the whole community."


Scammon Bay sits on the southern bank of the Kun River, about one mile in from the Bering Sea. The village is home to about 500 people, mostly Yup'ik Eskimos.

Many spend the summer season at fish camps along the Black River, 40 miles north of the village. Reaman's and Reichel's parents were at the Black River on Friday afternoon when they got word that something had happened to their sons, Cardwell said.

Back in Scammon Bay, a search was under way, and people had pieced together what they believe happened in the moments before the boys went into the Kun -- a river that is up to 300 feet wide in places, Cardwell said.

Reichel and Reaman were playing hide-and seek near the river's banks. The tide was out, and Reaman made his way out on to the slick mud of the exposed riverbed.

Even on warm days in Scammon Bay, kids typically don't venture into the river on purpose, Cardwell said.

"The families boat on it to get out on the Bering Sea, but most kids in our village don't swim because the water's too cold, even during the summer."


Troopers believe Reaman slipped and fell into the fast current and that Reichel quickly jumped in after. A short time later, searchers found Reaman in the water.

"EMTs performed CPR for 45 minutes to no avail," Cardwell wrote on the Web log. "As of this writing, 8 p.m., Alaska Standard Time, on Friday evening, Reaman's older brother, 10-year-old Reichel, has not yet been found. Search and rescue teams are dragging the Kun River to find him."

Saturday morning, those teams found Reichel submerged near the shoreline and pulled him out. The boy was about 150 yards from where his brother was discovered, said Tim DeSpain, a troopers spokesman.

Dr. Franc Fallico, state medical examiner, said there was no autopsy performed because there was no suspicion of foul play.

The boys are survived by their parents and five siblings.

Find Katie Pesznecker online at or call her at 257-4589.