Tragedy in Treacherous Waters Featured on Deadliest Catch

Crabbing vessel capsizes, killing all 3 onboard
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 10, 2019 12:40 PM CST
Crabbing Vessel Capsizes Off Oregon, Killing All 3 Onboard
This Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019 photo provided by the Oregon State Police shows authorities in Newport, Ore., examine the wreckage of the Mary B. II, a commercial crabbing that capsized while crossing Yaquina Bay Bar off the coast of Newport, Ore. Three crew members died in the accident.   (Oregon State Police via AP)

A commercial crabbing boat capsized in rough waters off the Oregon coast this week, killing the three men aboard and sending a shock wave through a seafaring community already struggling from a monthlong delay to the annual crabbing season. The Coast Guard said the vessel, the Mary B. II, overturned about 10pm Tuesday as it crossed Yaquina Bay bar in Newport, Oregon, the AP reports. The bar—a coastal area where a river meets the sea, causing forces that can create hazardous currents and swells—is one of the most notorious off the Oregon coast, and authorities said crews faced 12- to 14-foot waves as they tried to rescue the fishermen. The men had called for an escort across the bar and a responding Coast Guard boat was nearby when the crabbing boat capsized "without warning," the Coast Guard said.

James Lacey, 48, of New Jersey, was pulled from the ocean by helicopter and flown to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The body of Joshua Porter, 50, of Oregon, washed up on a beach early Wednesday. The body of the boat's skipper, Stephen Biernacki, 50, also of New Jersey, was found on the hull of the boat after it, too, washed up on a jetty. The tragedy was nothing new for Newport, where more than 100 local fishermen have been lost at sea over the past century, but those in the industry said the loss hit particularly hard this year because of a season delayed first by small crab size and then by storms. The Yaquina Bay bar is so treacherous that the dangers of crossing it with a fully loaded crab boat were the premise of a spin-off of the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. (Elsewhere, these veteran crabbers were gone like "dust in the wind.")

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