by Abby Hancock
12:40 PM AKDT, May 21, 2011
The State Medical Examiner's Office has released the names of the five commercial clam diggers who died in Cook Inlet. Officials say the bodies of 42 year-old Roberto Ramirez, 34 year-old Jose A. Sandoval, 36 year-old Avelino Garcia, 24 year-old Jose Revera, and 31 year-old Ramon Valdiva were found in Cook Inlet. According to Alaska State Troopers, 42 year-old Noel Garcia, another man in their work party, said the 22-foot aluminum skiff was overloaded and began taking on water due to windy conditions and rough seas. Garcia told officials that the men spent the day digging for clams in an area between Crescent River and Polly Creek, and loaded the skiff with the buckets of clams. Garcia said he decided to walk back to the camp at Polly Creek, and last saw the boat heading back to camp at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Troopers say when Garcia got to camp and the skiff had not arrived, camp workers began to search for their missing co-workers. Once Ramirez's body was found on shore, the Coast Guard was notified of the missing boat and started its search of the area. Sandoval and Garcia were found a mile offshore, and Revera and Valdiva were recovered the next day.
Sandoval and Revera were from California, Garcia and Valdiva were from Oregon, and the residence of Ramirez is unknown, according to the State Medical Examiner's Office.
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