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Police: Circumstances Of Robinson's Disappearance Remain A 'Mystery'

Berett Wilber/KUCB

Police say the disappearance of Unalaska resident Willy Robinson likely stemmed from an incident in the waters of Captains Bay.

The exact circumstances are a "mystery," according to Acting Director Jennifer Shockley of the Department of Public Safety.

But investigators who searched the island where Robinson was fishing this weekend found no signs of foul play or an emergency on land.

"We're still considering him 'missing,'" said Shockley. 'But his family has been informed that the likelihood of finding him alive is very, very slim."

Robinson was reported missing Tuesday around 10 a.m. by a friend who lent him a vessel on Saturday. By the state of the island, police are certain that Robinson boated there safely and started fishing as planned.

"Based on some of the remains of the fish, it appears that he was probably fishing on Sunday," said Shockley. "Our best guess is that he was still alive and out there on Sunday — and that whatever happened to him had happened by sometime on Monday."

Robinson's borrowed boat drifted ashore Monday near the Northland dock. Shockley said the motor was found in the "up" position without a propeller, so it's unclear when he had driven the boat last.

"It did appear to have some damage, but not the kind of damage you might expect if you hit something at high speeds," she said. 

With no other leads, police called off their two-day search for Robinson on Wednesday. Shockley said responders combed almost 20 miles of Captains and Unalaska Bays, with help from a dozen local boat owners who searched alongside the city's lone rescue vessel.

"A huge thank you to all of the people who volunteered," she said. "It's with their assistance that so much more ground was able to be covered."

Robinson's friends and family are still hoping to recover his body. They're looking for volunteers to walk the beaches around Little South America and Captains Bay. For more information, contact Genee at 907-359-2299 or Catina at 907-359-1191.

The Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association is also offering support to Unalaskans concerned about Willy Robinson.

“APIA has staff available to support by way of being present to listen, talk with, or simply sit with as waves of emotion arise,” said APIA officials in a statement.

Contact APIA's behavioral health providers at 907-581-2751 or 1-844-375-2742.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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