Maritime Injury Law Blog

Articles Posted in Maritime Death

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Two fishermen are missing and one is confirmed dead in an Oregon crab boat accident. An EPIRB signal was received late Tuesday night alerting the Coast Guard that the EAGLE III was in trouble.   The forty foot vessel had collided with the north jetty at Coos Bay and broken apart.   At the time of the incident, winds were 30 mph and seas were estimated at 8-10 feet.   The EAGLE III is home ported in Port Orford, California.  The Captain of the EAGLE III is reported to have survived the incident. The search has been suspended for the two missing crew.  The cause of the incident is under investigation.  The Coast Guard will likely investigate whether the EAGLE III was seaworthy, the crew properly trained, and whether or not navigational error may have contributed to the crewmen deaths.  The Oregon and Washington Crab fishery has again proven itself to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  Small vessels such as the EAGLE III often face weather conditions that place them in peril.

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On March 14, 2015, a crew member on the 65′, 1000 horsepower tugboat SEA BEAR radioed for help on its way back home from the Fire Island area to New York and said the ship was taking on water and sinking. When the Long Island Coast Guard boat crew sped to the scene about one mile south of Fire Island, they found a debris field with three men in survival suits clustered together. The survivors were treated for hypothermia and taken to a hospital. A Good Samaritan tugboat that had responded to the urgent marine information broadcast (UMIB) found the dead fourth crewmember.

Water temperature at the time was reported to be about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of the deceased,” said Capt. Edward Cubanski, commander Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “I also applaud our dedicated and professional search and rescue crews, our port partners, local EMS, and police who responded on scene and ashore.”

It is not yet not known what caused the sinking. Suffolk County Police Department is investigating the cause of the incident.

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Sean O’Callahan, 29, was found deceased in his bunk aboard the F/V ALASKA DREAM as it headed out to fishing grounds off of Kodiak Island on February 28, 2015. The boat turned around when O’Callahan’s body was found, and Alaska State Troopers were notified of his death. Although nothing has been called suspicious, his remains were sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage for autopsy. The cause of death is still unknown.

According to Alaska Native News, O’Callahan, a resident of Florida, had fished in Alaska halibut, cod, salmon and crab fisheries.

His next of kin has been notified. They’ve announced that some of his ashes will be scattered at the Harbor Pier in Kodiak, and the rest will be scattered in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

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At 1 pm on January 26, 2015, the Puget Sound Coast Guard received a phone call from the Kitsap County 911 operator stating that a small red and white plane had crashed in the waters of the Hood Canal. The Coast Guard launched two helicopter crews, a 45′ response boat crew, and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter HENRY BLAKE to the reported crash site. Other agency responders included personnel from Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Mason County Sheriff’s Office and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

At around 2:30 pm, a helicopter crew found airplane debris near Seabeck, Washington. Search crews recovered a driver’s license and other items which allowed investigators to identify the pilot and notify the next of kin. It is Coast Guard policy to withhold names for 24 hours after next of kin have been notified. The pilot was believed to be the only person aboard.

“Our prayers and heartfelt wishes go out to the friends and loved ones of those affected by this tragedy,” said Lieutenant Raphael Sadowitz, the command duty officer at Sector Puget Sound. “We also extend our gratitude to the good Samaritans who were quick to report the incident and the local law enforcement personnel who aided in our search. Their efforts helped ensure our ability to swiftly find the location of the crash and thoroughly cover the surrounding areas.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the only missing aircraft in the area is an RV7, a homemade single-engine two-seater. FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer says it’s missing from the Tacoma Narrows airport and is registered to a man from Fox Island.

Weather reported at the time of the incident consisted of clear skies, 12 to 15 mph winds, 1-foot seas and an air temperature of 53 degrees Fahrenheit and water temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Under United States law, aircraft that crash into navigable waters are governed by Federal maritime law.

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On the evening of September 29, 2014, Robert Doug Schrecengost, 59, was found dead in the water near Dock R at Shilshole Bay Marina. The Port of Seattle reported that it appears he drowned, with no signs of foul play or intentional death. Seattle Fire Department tried to revive him on route to Harborview Hospital, but he had been in the water too long. Schrecengost was a recreational boater and commercial fisherman, and he lived at the marina on his 31-foot sailboat named Del Ray.

In 2006, five similar deaths occurred at another marina in Seattle; four fishermen and one woman accidentally drowned off the docks at Fisherman’s Terminal. After complaints by fishermen and tenants, Seattle Port officials and WA Department of Labor and Industries investigated safety concerns such as slippery wood docks, lack of guard rails, inadequate lighting, and the need for more ladders and life rings. More self-rescue ladders were installed as well as other safety measures.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014, a Washington resident died while diving off the dredge ARGO off the coast of Alaska near Nome. The diver was identified as Sean Beals, a resident of Seattle.
Around 10:30 p.m., the diver was observed floating facedown in the water. The dive tender who spotted the unconscious diver and another crewmember attempted to save the diver before he was transported to the Norton Sound Medical Center. There, he was declared deceased.
There are no signs of foul play, but the details surrounding the death are hazy. AST spokesperson Megan Peters says that the cause of death could be anything from drowning to a medical emergency, and that the Coast Guard is investigating into the matter, labeling the death a major marine incident.
The lawyers at Beard, Stacey, and Jacobsen have handled several recent cases involving the death of divers. Jim Jacobsen recently handled a case where a diver was killed due to an 8,000 pound steel piling pinned him to the ocean floor, recovering a settlement for the diver’s family. Additionally, Jim Beard is currently working on the case of David Scheinost, who was killed when the breathing apparatus he was using malfunctioned, leading to his death by drowning.

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On the morning of July 6, while weighing anchor near King Cove, Alaska, a large swell broadsided 32-foot, Juneau-based MATT-MICHELLE, sending 53-year-old Rudy Dushkin Jr. overboard. The only other person on the vessel was the owner/captain, Bert Bendixon. Mr. Bendixon sent a distress call as he threw a life ring to Mr. Dushkin, but Mr. Dushkin had already drifted too far away. Some details of the recovery efforts have yet to be verified, but according to one report, the captain was eventually able to get to Mr. Dushkin with a long line and then, after donning a survival suit, he jumped into the frigid water and pulled Mr. Dushkin to land. Mr. Dushkin is said to not have been wearing a life jacket.

On land, the F/V MISS ROXANNE crew assisted in trying to revive Mr. Dushkin. Sadly, no one was able to resuscitate him.

As an investigation by authorities continues, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Rudy Paul Dushkin, Jr.

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On June 20, around 9:20 a.m, a 25-foot aluminum fishing guide boat with six men on board went down in near the Columbia River bar. Witnesses say the boat flipped over in heavy waves. All six of the men on the boat were wearing life jackets, so the men on TERESA D, were able to locate five of them and fish them out safely. Unfortunately, a six man, said to be Craig Robert Biggs of West Linn, Oregon, had become entangled in line or net, and could not be resuscitated when the Coast Guard located him.

The TERESA D crew had seen that the fishing boat was having trouble, so they had been keeping an eye on them and following. This, their safety preparedness and communication equipment, and their quick action saved the five men.

Good Samaritans play a huge role in keeping each other safe out there. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Craig Robert Biggs.

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The Coast Guard and Kodiak Police Department are investigating the death of a 30-year-old Cody Cecil, of Everett, Washington, who died yesterday on board F/V ALPINE COVE while the vessel was moored in Kodiak, Alaska. Four other crew members were evacuated and much of the harbor had to be cleared. One man, Francis Rutten of Snohomish, Washington, had to remain in the hospital for further treatment.

Apparently, the crew was asleep when a chemical, possibly chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), from the vessel refrigeration system leaked. According to reports, one of the crew smelled something strange and called Emergency for help as he tried to waken the crew. The investigation includes looking into any potential connection with some welding work had been done on the vessel hours earlier.

F/V ALPINE COVE is a 76-foot vessel, built in 2001, owned by Alpine Cove Fisheries, LLC, of Woodinville, Washington. At the time of the leak, ALPINE COVE was moored in St. Herman’s Harbor, one of the marinas located at Near Island in Kodiak.

Most people recognize Freon as the name for CFCs; it’s the trade name given by DuPont for its brand. One of the more common CFCs in use is dichlorodifluoromethane (R-12). CFCs are used in many fishing vessel refrigeration systems. Because of CFCs are linked to ozone depletion, they are strictly regulated and are being phased out of use. CFCs are not only intrinsically toxic, but they also displace oxygen. Exposure at only 11% can result in nausea, difficulty breathing, heart arrhythmia, dizziness, and numerous neurological problems. This is not the first time chemical exposure on board a fishing vessel has resulted in needless tragedy.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and many friends of Cody Cecil. We wish Francis Rutten and anyone else injured a swift and complete recovery.

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Fisherman Franz d’Alquen, 48, was killed in a blast on board on factory trawler ALASKA OCEAN on March 11 at around 9:20 p.m. According to the initial report, the blast resulted from a welding job setting off some acetylene gas that was leaking from a tank located inside an enclosed space, in this case a storage locker. The locker door was blown from its hinges, hitting Mr. d’Alquen.

Glacier Fish Company owns 376-foot ALASKA OCEAN of Seattle. This tragedy occurred about 165 miles out in the Bering Sea. Our condolences go out to all of Mr. d’Alquen’s family and many friends.