ALMOST TOO LATE by Elmo Wortman

ALMOST TOO LATE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The stirring true story of a father and his three children trapped on an Alaskan island in midwinter. Wortman, 52 and divorced, was a rheumatic carpenter on Social Security disability living with his children--Cindy (16), Randy (15), and Jena Lynn (12)--on a floathouse at Port Refugio, in southeast Alaska. Returning from nearby Prince Rupert, they were caught in abblizzard at sea just as Wortman came down with the flu; and after three nightmarishly sleepless days, they found themselves shipwrecked on a rocky island. Everything went wrong--they separated in the thundering surf, they could salvage almost nothing from the crumbling yacht. Starving, they spent days moving to a cove; then, built a raft. Thinking they were near a familiar island, with a cabin, Wortman and Randy set off to radio for help--leaving Cindy and Jena Lynn behind, under a sail, and expecting to be back in three hours. The cabin turned out to be seven miles off, and under a heavy snow; when Wortman and Randy reached it, their radio failed and their feet swelled so badly they couldn't walk for three days. They were dearly too sick to paddle back for the girls, in freezing weather under the wet sail; and two weeks of unrelenting guilt passed before they had strength enough to move the raft and set back to recover the girls' bodies. But they were alive! Skeletal, sore-ridden, but living. Simply told, but gripping.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Random House