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As Police Investigate, Unalaska Mourns Death Of High School Senior

Berett Wilber/KUCB

Updated 2/10/20 at 11:30 a.m.

More than 100 people gathered Saturday at Unalaska's high school to mourn the death of 18-year-old Alexis Magalong, a senior who was reported missing and later found dead over the weekend. 

Superintendent John Conwell said he'd known Magalong since she was three years old. He remembered her as a "remarkable young lady" and skilled basketball player.

"She was just so much fun to watch as our starting point guard," said Conwell. "What she didn't have in size, she made up with tenacity and competitive spirit. That's really what I remember most about her. I saw her everyday in the hallways, and she was always so pleasant and just a great member of our student body."

After an overnight search, Magalong was found dead Saturday at approximately 9:30 a.m. in the "general area of Summer Bay," according to a statement by the Department of Public Safety.

Interim Police Chief John Lucking said the department is investigating the cause of her death, with help from the Fire Department and Alaska State Troopers. He said police and other local responders joined a search for Magalong after being notified Saturday at 3:19 a.m. that she was missing.

"Initial information indicated that the family of an 18-year-old high school student hadn't had contact with their daughter since late in the afternoon of the proceeding day," said the Public Safety statement. "It was reported that the missing girl's vehicle was found past Summer Bay. In spite of their searching through the area, friends and family members had failed to locate the missing teen. Upon notification to the department, officers responded to the area of the vehicle and searched for the missing girl and/or any sign of information that might help in locating her.

"At first light, the Unalaska Fire Department, Alaska State Troopers, and the Department of Public Safety expanded the search, activating volunteers and other available resources," the statement continued. "At approximately 0930 hours, the search was suspended when searchers found the individual deceased in the general area of Summer Bay."

Lucking declined to make further comments Saturday afternoon, when grieving students, school staffers, and community members gathered at the high school to mourn Magalong and share support.

Providers with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA) offered counseling and mental health resources, while faith leaders and other local officials extended support as well.

APIA's Delta Bedard said additional counselors are flying Tuesday to Unalaska. They’ll be available to students and staff during school hours this week.

"One of the things I will say when it comes to a tragedy like this: People like life balance, and right now, their balance is off," said Bedard. "Trying to find normalcy in such abnormal circumstances is really difficult to do. So one of my suggestions would be that you make sure you try to maintain normalcy in your life."

Bedard also encouraged Unalaskans to look for support in counselors, friends, and family.

"Even in these types of really horrific circumstances, what I've noticed is that this community has come together so strongly, advocated for one another, and supported one another," she said. "It's a beautiful thing."

Unalaskans can call APIA's help line at 359-2743 to speak with a counselor over the phone or make a face-to-face appointment.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money and help offset burial and memorial costs for Magalong's family.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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.
Hope McKenney is a public radio news director, reporter, producer and host based in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
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