A commercial crabbing boat capsized in rough waters off the Oregon coast, killing the three men aboard and sending a shock wave through a seafaring community already struggling from a monthlong delay to the annual crabbing season.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the vessel, the Mary B. II, overturned about 10 p.m. Tuesday as it crossed Yaquina Bay bar in Newport, Oregon. The bar is one of the most notorious off the Oregon coast, and authorities said crews faced 12- to 14-foot (3.6- to 4.2-meter) waves as they tried to rescue the fishermen.
The men had called for an escort across the bar and a responding Coast Guard boat was nearby when the crabbing boat capsized “without warning,” the Coast Guard said Wednesday evening in a news release. The Coast Guard is investigating the incident. James Lacey, 48, of South Toms River, New Jersey, was pulled from the ocean by helicopter and flown to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The body of Joshua Porter, 50, of Toledo, Oregon, washed up on a beach early Wednesday. The body of the boat’s skipper, Stephen Biernacki, 50, of Barnegat Township, New Jersey, was found on the hull of the boat after it, too, washed up on a jetty.
The Coast Guard confirmed that a boat, the Mary B II, capsized in the Yaquina Bay Bar near Newport, Oregon.
The boat was featured in the 2016 Discovery series show, according to KEZI in a now-deleted report. But another station, KGW-TV, reported that a synopsis of “Deadliest Catch” episodes shows no mention of the Mary B II.
A few other local TV stations around the United States, including Houston’s KHOU-TV, appeared to publish similar information used in the original KGW report about the capsizing, which said the boat was used on the popular reality TV show. KGW appeared to change its headline, and TMZ later reported that the “Deadliest Catch” boat capsized.
Coast Guard officials said the Mary B II requested an escort across the bar in Newport because the bar was restricted due to tall waves, KEZI reported.
The boat capsized during the Coast Guard escort, and three crew members ended up in the water.
Two crew members ended up in the water and were recovered but died, KGW reported. It prompted an immediate search.
A third crew member is dead but his body is trapped in the boat, the report stated.
In elaborating on what happened, the Coast Guard’s Pacific Northwest office wrote in a tweet: “USCG Air Facility Newport and Station Yaquina Bay boat crews responding to 3 fishermen in the water after commercial fishing vessel Mary B II capsizes while crossing Yaquina Bay Bar. Crews battling 12 to 14-foot seas.”
#USCG Air Facility Newport and Station Yaquina Bay boat crews responding to 3 fishermen in the water after commercial fishing vessel Mary B II capsizes while crossing Yaquina Bay Bar. Crews battling 12 to 14-foot seas. pic.twitter.com/vmyB2K6J8b
— USCGPacificNorthwest (@USCGPacificNW) January 9, 2019
A few hours later, it wrote that Coast Guard “aircrew has recovered one of the fisherman from the capsized fishing vessel Mary B II. Fisherman has been delivered to EMS. Crews still searching for two near entrance to Yaquina Bay.”
Representatives for the “Deadliest Catch” series have not commented on the incident.
#USCG aircrew has recovered one of the fisherman from the capsized fishing vessel Mary B II. Fisherman has been delivered to EMS. Crews still searching for two near entrance to Yaquina Bay.
— USCGPacificNorthwest (@USCGPacificNW) January 9, 2019
Newport is located on the coast of central Oregon.
Other details about the incident are not clear.
‘Deadliest Catch’ Deaths
It comes months after Blake Painter, a former star on Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch,” was found dead in his home in Oregon, according to a Us Weekly report at the time.
My sincerest condolences to Capt. Blake’s family, friends, crew, and all who loved him. Fair winds and following seas, Captain. Rest easy; we have the watch. pic.twitter.com/2FBg8GivzB
— Capt Keith Colburn (@crabwizard) May 29, 2018
The magazine cited a law enforcement source as saying that a concerned friend contacted the authorities after not having heard from Painter for several days. Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin told Deadline that there were no signs of foul play or suspicious circumstances.
“He was located on Friday but probably passed away a day or two ahead of that,” Bergin said. “Friends contacted the Sheriff’s office, and we went in and discovered his body. There was no evidence of foul play.”
Violent Crime Down Across US
The FBI said that both violent crime and property crime decreased in 2017 compared to 2016. Overall violent crime decreased 0.2 percent from 2016 to last year, while property crime decreased 3 percent during that time, the agency said in September, releasing data from the previous year.
“There were more than 1.2 million violent crimes reported to UCR nationwide in 2017. There was a 0.7 percent decrease in murders and a 4 percent decrease in robberies from 2016 to 2017. Aggravated assaults increased 1 percent in 2017. The FBI began collecting data solely on an updated rape definition last year, and 135,755 rapes were reported to law enforcement in 2017,” the FBI said in its report.
“The report also showed there were more than 7.7 million property crimes last year. Burglaries decreased 7.6 percent and larceny-thefts decreased 2.2 percent. Motor vehicle thefts increased 0.8 percent from 2016 to 2017.”
These figures were compiled from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies around the United States that submitted their crime data to the FBI.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.