July 12, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 28

Jury makes Allgood's death official

A jury of six Haines residents on June 13 unanimously found that, based on evidence presented, it can be presumed that Jason Allgood died on June 16, 2010.

He is believed to have fallen into the Chilkat River and drowned while subsistence fishing.

Allgood, who worked at the U.S. border at Dalton Cache, was fishing alone near 24 Mile Haines Highway when he disappeared. His body was never recovered. The presumptive death hearing was requested by his former wife Jenifer Cook, who now lives in Idaho.

According to magistrate John Hutchins, who signed Allgood’s death certificate, such hearings are held to make deaths official for legal purposes.

The jury reviewed the facts of the case and questioned witnesses. The hearing lasted nearly four hours and included testimony by Cook, job supervisor Mark Blanchard, friend Nathan Webb, state trooper Josh Bentz and Mary Ripley, the last person who saw Allgood alive.

Webb, identified as Allgood’s best friend, testified against any possibility his friend might still be alive. “If you knew Jason, it’s not really possible there’s anything under board.”

Cook testified that her husband had never previously dropped out of sight or disappeared. She was traveling Outside with their three young children when Allgood disappeared.

Ripley, the mother of one of Allgood’s co-workers, was at a home Allgood visited to retrieve a subsistence net.

Trooper Bentz testified that the search for Allgood was extensive.

According to investigators, Allgood took a subsistence net to a riverside spot near the confluence of the Klehini, Chilkat and Tsirku rivers. He walked about a half mile from where he parked, carrying his net, a cooler and a backpack.

“There were only one set of tracks going in, and none coming out,” state trooper Ricky Merritt said in June 2010. Allgood’s personal possessions, including a wallet and camera, were found in a backpack next to a staked net. The search for Allgood continued for days and included dragging the river bottom at the site with a grappling hook.

Allgood had told a friend earlier in the day that he planned to spend the rest of the day fishing by himself. He also posted his plans on a Facebook page.

The river at the net site was up to 25 feet deep, searchers said, with a backwash described as a “washing machine.”