Over the Memorial Day weekend, a family of eight went fishing in Alaska. Tragically, three people were killed, and two others remain missing despite a desperate search across hundreds of square miles of water.
Four days after their boat was discovered partially submerged off an island in southeast Alaska, the tragedy tore the Tyau family apart. Two sisters and one of their husbands were killed, and the other sister’s boyfriend and the boat captain are still missing.
After more than 20 hours and 825 square miles, authorities called off the search on Monday and have no plans to resume it. The women’s family members, including their mothers, fathers, older brothers, and sisters-in-law, were on the other charter boat for the duration of their three-day excursion to the king salmon and groundfish hotspot.
The sisters and brother-in-law came along on the trip despite their distaste for fishing so that they could spend more time with their family, who live in both Hawaii and California.
“It was just supposed to be a simple family get-together for eight of us, since we haven’t been together in the same spot for so long,” Michael Tyau, the older brother, told The Associated Press on Thursday. “For it to turn out like this is really devastating.”
Michael, Brandi, and Danielle Tyau spent most of their childhood fishing with their parents off the coast of Oahu. Michael Tyau noted that his sisters would shiver and squirm in the water because of their parents’ and eventually their partners’ love of the water.
Robert Solis, Brandi Tyau’s longtime companion and a former Navy diver turned private investigator who was stationed in Hawaii when they met decades ago, was a person for whom ” the ocean really was his life,” according to one of Solis’ siblings.
Last year, when the mother of the Tyau siblings suggested a vacation, the children voted in favor of a fishing excursion in the Sitka Sound. “My sisters, I think, reluctantly agreed,” Michael Tyau said. On Thursday, he and his wife, Brandi Tyau, 56, and Solis, 61, flew from Los Angeles to Anchorage, Alaska.
Sister Danielle Agcaoili (age 53) and her husband Maury Agcaoili (age 57) — both native Hawaiians — greeted them upon their arrival in Hawaii. Kingfisher Charters, a firm that rents out boats for excursions, hosted the family at one of their lodges in Sitka.
Baranof Island is one of a group of islands dripping off Alaska’s southeast coast, and the small port city there is backed by a breathtaking volcanic peak. According to Kingfisher Charters, the area is a “premier fishing destination” because the islands provide numerous bays and tunnels that provide shelter from the wind and waves on days when the open sea is too dangerous.
The news can be confirmed by the tweet below:
Family’s Alaska fishing trip becomes nightmare with three dead and search over for two more https://t.co/fMwwKASsUO
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) June 3, 2023
According to Southeast Alaska Guides Organization director and avid angler Forrest Braden, most visitors spend several days in the area. “It’s more of a fishing-themed trip for a lot of people, rather than being one of a variety of activities that they do,” he said.
On a choppy Friday, the Tyau clan’s chartered boats, the Pockets and the Awakin, set out. Michael Tyau claimed that his wife and sisters had spent the day seasick in one of the boats’ cabins, so they had stayed on dry land on Saturday instead.
Sunday morning came, marking the women’s final day of vacation before their flights home on Monday. Michael Tyau wiped away tears as he remembered Danielle Agcaoili sobbing that “she didn’t want to let anybody down.”
The boat captains all went their separate ways to fish. Michael Tyau stated that when fishing from the Pockets, he “in no way felt in jeopardy, like this wasn’t safe for us to fish in.” After the Pockets returned to the lodge on Sunday night, they started to worry when Brandi Tyau, Danielle Agcaoili, Maury Agcaoili, and Solis didn’t show up for dinner and didn’t respond to their family’s texts.
The charter business informed Michael Tyau that they hadn’t heard from the Awakin since they’d lost radio contact with the 32-year-old captain, Morgan Robidou. On Sunday, something happened on the Awakin, but no one knows what. Wind and waves have made it difficult to salvage the 30-foot aluminum boat.
Brandi Tyau and Danielle Agcaoili’s dead bodies were discovered inside the cabin. We found Maury Agcaoili dead by the water’s edge. On Thursday, both Solis and Robidou were still missing. According to reports, the boat was last seen near Sitka on Sunday afternoon, although not until after dark.
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The body of Sunday was discovered 10 miles west of Sitka, partially submerged in the water off Low Island. Investigators from the Coast Guard are currently trying to piece together what happened and why. A Coast Guardsman said that there were 6- to 11-foot waves in the vicinity.
Kingfisher Charters did not react to queries beyond the Wednesday statement saying the firm is “devastated by the loss of the guests and captain of the Awakin” and is completely cooperating with an investigation it expects will “furnish answers to the questions as to how it occurred.”
The Tyau family has already lost too much time. Brandi Tyau, the quiet middle child who acted as a balancing force for Solis, and Danielle Agcaoili, the outgoing youngest kid who was affectionately known as “Dani,” both passing away was a terrible blow to the family.
In addition to Solis’ three sons from a prior relationship and Brandi Tyau’s son from a previous relationship, Solis leaves behind a fourth son. The Agcaoilis are the proud parents of two children, one of whom recently completed high school.
The purpose of the trip was to bring the family together after years of living in different places (Hawaii and Los Angeles, respectively). Michael Tyau estimated that “all eight of us” hadn’t been in the same room for more than a decade. We’re down to the last four now.
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