As mourners prepared to release balloons into the air above Kodiak on Wednesday, the clouds parted and the rain stopped. Then, incredibly, a rainbow appeared.
It was a perfect ending to the memorial service for Jaime Gallegos, 31, who disappeared at sea after the fishing vessel Advantage sank on Friday. Three other men were rescued from the Advantage, but one, boat captain Leif Bolan, died after the rescue. No details about services for Bolan have been announced.
“Mom, look at the sky,” called Jennifer Titus, Gallegos’ stepdaughter, as the rainbow appeared. “That is so weird.”
The rainbow pleased Amy Titus, Gallegos’ wife, who saw something more than a splash of color in the sky. “He is so happy right now,” Titus said about her husband. “I’m happy because it’s not raining, which means he’s happy.”
Wednesday was an emotional day for Titus, who coordinated the memorial service that began at 5 p.m. in the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium.
The Rev. Gordon Blue officiated the ceremony that attracted more than 80 people who paid their respects to a man who had three children and three stepchildren in his 10 years of fishing in Kodiak.
“Even though he is now lost to us, God has promised … ‘I will never send him away,’” Blue said during the emotional service that also included eulogies from Gallegos’ family members.
During her portion of the service, Titus held up a glass float, one of two Gallegos found during his first fishing trip from Kodiak.
One float went to Gallegos’ mother, the other to Titus, and the float was a symbol of their relationship, she said. As long as it remained unbroken, so did their bond.
“I know if I keep it, he’ll never leave,” she said in a broken voice.
After the auditorium service, mourners marched in a procession to Fred Zharoff Memorial Bridge under rainy skies. As the weather turned, they released red and black balloons into the air and family members dropped flowers and a memorial cross from the bridge into Near Island Channel.
“It quit raining just long enough for us to release everything,” Titus said.
After the balloons disappeared into the sky, mourners reunited at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, where they shared memories and a joint meal.
The Coast Guard is continuing to investigate the sinking of the Advantage and has not released any probable cause information.
Titus said conversations she has had with friends of the survivors indicate the boat’s autopilot may have malfunctioned, leading to the boat capsizing.