ANCHORAGE -

Two men from Delaware and South Carolina aboard a capsized skiff near Petersburg Sunday night called police for help, but were found dead hours later after a major search according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Beth Ipsen identifies the men as 45-year-old Jonathan Comfort of Clayton, Del. and Kenneth Rupprecht, 58, of Tamassee, S.C. She says they had plans to spend about a week in the area.

“These two gentlemen went to a lodge to do a self-guided fishing trip,” Ipsen said. “They have done this fairly often and know the area.”

Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert says Comfort and Rupprecht were in an 18-foot Lund skiff on Sumner Strait, north of the Level Islands and south of Kah Sheets Bay, when they went into the water. They called the Petersburg Police Department shortly before 6 p.m.

“It looks like the people in the water had contacted PPD via cellphone for 45 minutes,” Eggert said. “They (said they) had (personal flotation devices), but no survival suits; the cellphone call cut out.”

The Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to search for the skiff, with Alaska State Troopers in both Wrangell and Petersburg alerted to assist with the search. While a full shoreline search of the area was unsuccessful as of 10 p.m., troopers found the capsized skiff and the Jayhawk crew found a cooler it had been carrying.

At about 11 p.m., Eggert says the Jayhawk’s crew reported spotting the two men in the water near the overturned skiff.

“The MH-60 directed troopers to the location of the people; each was recovered and determined to be deceased,” Eggert said. “Neither of them were wearing a life jacket with personal locator beacons when found.”

Conditions reported by search crews in the area at the time included visibility of 10 nautical miles under an 800-foot cloud ceiling, with 2-foot seas. Eggert says it’s not clear whether the men falsely claimed to have been wearing life jackets, or whether they were wearing life jackets but they slipped off at some point during the evening.

“The weather was pretty calm,” Eggert said.