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.