A 32 years old crewman was lost overboard and drown Wednesday while working on the crab boat BALLAD. The accident happened 10 miles from the Columbia River Entrance. The man was reported to be wearing only rain gear and no flotation work vest at the time of the accident.
The BALLAD is home ported in Chinook, Washington and is a 56 foot crab fishing vessel. Coast Guard records indicate the vessel is owned by Ballad Inc. of Chinook, Washington. The crew of the BALLAD issued a may day call at 1:00 p.m. reporting the man overboard. Helicopter crews from North Bend and Astoria responded to the call and a motor life boat crew from Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco was also dispatched to the search for the crewman. A dive team from Clatsop County was able to recover the crewman’s body whose identity is being withheld pending notification of family.
Tragically, this death again highlights the extreme dangers of the Washington and Oregon State Dungeness crab fisheries. Resent studies released by the National Transportation and Safety Board showed that Dungeness crab fisherman in Washington and Oregon were ten times more likely to die while working than other commercial fisherman. The Coast Guard had implemented operation Safe Crab in an attempt educate fisherman on common safety concerns. Owners of some crab boats in the Ilwaco and Chinook areas require all crewman to wear a floatation type work vest while working on deck.
Families of fisherman who are lost at sea have claims for compensation under Federal Maritime law. Those laws are very complex, particularly where the case involves a death on the high seas. Beard Stacey & Jacobean is one of the nations most experienced maritime law firms in representing families in claims for wrongful death.