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Articles Posted in Maritime Death

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Alaska-Beach1200x600-300x150It is with great sadness that we report the deaths of Cole Rutzer and Dylan Furford, two young men who grew up in a tight-knit community near Westport, Washington. They were doing what they loved, working hard, and bringing in Dungeness crab aboard the F/V PACIFIC DYNASTY.

Greg Rutzer, Cole Rutzer’s father, and Brent Gilbertson, a cousin, were also working on the vessel. According to reports, the crew had just dropped their crab pots. Rutzer and Furford loved adventures, and with the little downtime they had, took a Zodiac skiff and Cole’s dog to Tugidak Island, about ½ mile from where the F/V PACIFIC DYNASTY was anchored. They planned on doing some beachcombing on the remote island then return to the vessel in the late afternoon.

Scott McCann, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said the men had provided a float plan to the captain, Greg Rutzer. They were to return to the vessel before dinner.

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Florence_Oregon-300x200It is with great sadness that we report the deaths of two people killed early Monday morning after the F/V AQUARIUS collided with a jetty on the Siuslaw River Bar.

Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector North Bend received a distress call at about 1:50 a.m. from the captain of the vessel, stating that the vessel was taking on water and that all crew members were abandoning ship.

The 13th District command center received a signal from the vessel’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon [EPIRB] shortly after the call. The vessel sank near Florence, Oregon.

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Alaska-Iceberg1200x600STACEY & JACOBSEN, PLLC represents the two survivors in the SCANDIES ROSE sinking. The vessel owner (Scandies Rose Fishing Co., LLC) and the vessel manager (Mattsen Management LLC) have filed a Petition for Limitation of Liability in Federal Court Seattle. The vessel owner and manager initiated legal action arguing that they have no responsibility for the deaths of the crew and injuries to the survivors. As we understand the position of the owner and manager, they claim that they had no knowledge of the bad weather that was forecast for New Year’s Eve. The vessel owner and manager are taking this position even though a majority of the Kodiak fleet stayed at the dock that day due to bad weather. SCANDIES ROSE and Mattsen Management, however, claim that SCANDIES ROSE is a larger boat and did not need to heed the weather that was forecast for that day. Obviously, they were mistaken.

This Federal Court proceeding compelled the families and survivors to Answer the Petition and bring their own claims. Four of the five families of the decedents and the two survivors filed their legal pleadings, as required, before May 28, 2020. The captain was one of the owners of the vessel and his family did not file a claim. The parties will meet soon to work out a discovery plan and propose court dates. It is estimated that a trial date will be set sometime in mid-2021. Recently, the survivors filed Sworn Affidavits in a probate court in order to help the families obtain death certificates. The Affidavits contain chilling details of events that occurred in the final moments.

The survivors report that they were awakened when SCANDIES ROSE took a serious list to starboard. The entire crew ran up to the wheelhouse. Captain Cobban confirmed that the vessel had a serious list and that the vessel was sinking. He ordered everyone to get their survival suits on as the vessel continued the roll to starboard. At some point, before the survivors got out, the vessel was nearly on her starboard side. The crew struggled to put on their survival suits because the vessel was listing at such a sharp angle. Water began flowing into the starboard side (which basically had become the floor). The survivors report that they were able to climb up and out of the wheelhouse through the port side door. They were able to stand on the port side hull and called back for the other crew to get out. At that time, all the lights went out, and almost immediately, a wave knocked the survivors off the hull and into the sea. The two survivors were able to locate a life raft and climb aboard. They floated approximately five hours before being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. They never saw their fellow crewmembers again after they got washed off the hull.

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AquacultureAn Everett man is dead and three others were injured after a 20-foot boat they were operating crashed into an unlit pen net in Port Angeles, Washington on the evening of July 30, 2019. Two adults and one 14-year-old boy from Snohomish County were also in the boat, but survived the dramatic crash. According to reports, the pen nets involved with the crash were owned by Cooke Aquaculture.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles MH-65 rescue helicopter crew was in the area performing a training exercise when they saw a person on the boat attempting CPR to an unresponsive passenger. The aircrew lowered a rescue swimmer who swam to the platform on the fishing pier to assist with CPR.

It was reported that a U.S. Coast Guard Station Port Angeles 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew embarked all four boaters and took them to emergency medical personnel who were waiting at the pier at Station Port Angeles. The Everett man, Robert R. Elliott, age 62, was declared dead at the scene.

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USCGC_HickoryThe U.S. Coast Guard has released the results of the investigation into the crane accident that took the life of Chief Warrant Officer Michael Kozloski on January 31st, 2019. The accident occurred in the Coast Guard buoy yard in Homer, Alaska. The 35-year-old accident victim from Mahopac, New York, was a crew member aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory. A 17-year veteran, he was working in the vessel buoy yard when a crane rolled over and struck him.

The investigation revealed that the direct cause of the accident was the improper operation of the shoreside crane. Investigators also found that inadequate crewmember training, a complacency of shoreside operations, and leadership deficiencies aboard the Cutter Hickory contributed to the accident.

The commanding officer of the Cutter Hickory has been temporarily relieved of duty, with “loss of confidence in the officer’s ability to perform his duties” as the official reason cited. The call was made by Rear Adm. Matthew Bell Jr., who is the commander of the 17th Coast Guard District. A formal review is pending.

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1200px-DHC-3-Otter-300x141Six people are confirmed dead after two floatplanes collided near Ketchikan, Alaska. Originally, 2 people were missing, but the U.S. Coast Guard and Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad located the remaining two near the crash site of the Beaver floatplane.  They were deceased.

“We have been in regular contact with the family members throughout our search efforts,” said Capt. Stephen White, Sector Juneau commander. “This is not the outcome we hoped for and extend our deepest sympathies during this very difficult time.”

Ten people were taken to area hospitals and four with more serious injuries were flown to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.

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USCGC_HickoryIt is with great sadness that we report the death of a U.S. Coast Guard officer after he was struck by a crane in Homer, Alaska.

Michael Kozloski, a 35-year-old Chief Warrant Officer from Mahopac, New York, was a crew member aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory. A 17-year veteran, he was working in the vessel buoy yard when a crane rolled over and struck him.

Emergency medical personnel from the Homer Volunteer Fire Department responded and performed CPR. Officer Kozloski was transported to South Peninsula Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

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USCG-Prowler-Rescue-300x200A yacht and a sport-fishing vessel collided on Friday night about nine miles off the coast of Imperial Beach, California near the U.S. and Mexico border. Several people were injured, and one man has died from injuries sustained in the collision.

According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, Richard Neff, age 66 of San Clemente, California was pronounced dead approximately four hours after the crash. Mr. Neff was injured just before 6 p.m. when the 322-foot “superyacht” ATTESSA IV collided with the PROWLER, a 65-foot San Diego based charter sport-fishing vessel owned by Andrew Viola, Markus Medak, and Drew Card.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 29 people were aboard the PROWLER at the time of the collision, which resulted in multiple injuries and extensive damage to the starboard side of the fishing vessel. A Coast Guard Sector San Diego MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and a Coast Guard Station San Diego 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew were dispatched. The Coast Guard Cutter Sea Otter was also diverted to assist.

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Capt-Billy-Haver

Photo by Marc Piché courtesy of Shipspotter.com

One crewmember is dead, a second wounded, and a third has been arrested after a brutal attack aboard the F/V CAPT BILLY HAVER, an 82-foot fishing trawler based in Virginia.

27-year-old Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez was arrested and charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder on Monday, September 24th. He will appear in federal court in Boston at a time to be determined.

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Colorado-River-NeedlesA Labor Day weekend river cruise turned deadly after two boats collided on Saturday evening. Authorities are still investigating the cause of Saturday’s head-on collision that sunk both vessels and left all 16 passengers in the water. It was reported that two boats were involved, one carrying 10 people and the other carrying 6 passengers. The incident happened just north of Lake Havasu, on a stretch of the Colorado River located between Needles, California and Topock, Arizona.

Good Samaritans arrived at the scene before emergency officials and pulled many of the victims from the water; but in the current, several passengers were swept downriver. According to Mohave County Sheriff Doug Shuster, none of the passengers were wearing life jackets. While life jackets are not required by law, they are strongly recommended by authorities.

According to Eric Sherwin, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Fire Department, emergency rescue personnel arrived approximately 45 minutes after the initial call for assistance. Nine people were transported by ambulance to area hospitals while two critically injured victims were airlifted by helicopter to a Las Vegas hospital.

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