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.
An MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew from Air Facility Newport launched and arrived on scene at approximately 2:50 a.m. Rescue crews from Station Siuslaw River and Station Umpqua River also assisted in the search.
Siuslaw Valley Fire Rescue and Western Lane Ambulance as well as members from Station Siuslaw River located one responsive crewmember while searching along the shoreline for survivors. The victim confirmed that two other persons were aboard the vessel when it sank.
A second unresponsive person was located by the Coast Guard helicopter crew, hoisted, then taken to awaiting EMS at Florence Municipal Airport. At approximately 7 a.m, the final crewmember was located and brought aboard the Station Siuslaw River boat with the assistance of a helicopter rescue swimmer. Both were later pronounced dead.
“Station Siuslaw River is humbled by the citizens of Florence Oregon,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Jay Nilles, Officer-in-Charge of Station Siuslaw River. “Together with our partner agencies we strive to prevent the loss of life for those who go to sea. This community is a family that embraces us, as we embrace everyone who crosses the bar for a living, or to recreate on the ocean. We are reminded during these times, that the ocean is unforgiving, and can be a treacherous place to work and recreate. We will continue to support our community and do all we can to keep those safe who go to sea for their livelihood or pleasure.”
The deceased have been identified as Kyle and Amber Novelli, well-known locals, and the owners of Novelli’s Crab & Seafood restaurant in Florence, OR.
“This highly unfortunate loss of two members of our close community deeply saddens all of us. We continue to stand by you in this time of need and healing. We could not continue to be strong and successful without our partnerships with Siuslaw Valley Fire Rescue and Western Lane Ambulance, who both assisted us in safely recovering one survivor from the tragic incident at sea, and getting him to a higher level of medical care at a rapid pace,” said Nilles.
“Without today’s technology of VHF-FM radio communications and an EPIRB, we would not have been able to quickly locate the scene of distress, followed by the location of survivors and victims. This highlights the need for life-saving equipment on our commercial fishing fleet as we continue our mission to make commercial fishing safer for everyone.”
The Siuslaw River Bar is known to be dangerous as it has an especially narrow channel that extends out past the jetties. It is often impassable for smaller vessels during moderate swells, especially during ebb tides.
Conditions at the scene were reported as 6 to 8-foot seas. Intermittent 10-foot waves were also reported breaking at the bar.