Togiak boy drowns, huffing believed to be involved

A 14-year-old Togiak boy drowned in a creek early Tuesday morning. Troopers believe he and other boys were inhaling gas, known as huffing, before the drowning occurred.

Togiak VPSO Roger Wassillie got a call just past 3:30AM on Tuesday that Reuben Pauk had fallen into Nasaurlug Creek, where he had been hanging out with a group of friends.

“It was still dark when we arrived on scene. I saw a 4 wheeler on the side of the creek, I thought maybe he fell in right there,” said Wassillie.

Wassillie got in his skiff and began to look for the boy. The tide was making the search difficult and Wassillie sent out a call for help. Three other boats joined the effort.

“We were looking further up from the point where the kid went down,” said Wassillie. “We started getting closer and closer and then they found the boy.”

Around 6:15 am, almost three hours after the search began, Pauk’s body was found, about 100 feet upriver from where he went in the water.

In their report, the state troopers say the boys were huffing gas on the bank of the creek before the incident occurred. During his investigation, VPSO Wassillie noticed a large blue tarp where the boys were hanging out.

“So I went to check what it was and it was 5 plastic containers of outboard motor fuel containers. All of them didn’t have any covers on them,” said Wassillie.

Reuben Pauk, age 14, was pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin have been notified, and his body will be sent to Anchorage for an autopsy.