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NEWPORT – Five fishermen and one federal fisheries observer died this weekend in the deadliest 24 hours for commercial fishing in the Pacific Northwest in recent memory.
Investigations are ongoing, but early indications suggest rough seas on what is already considered one of the most treacherous stretches of water in the U.S. contributed to the capsizings. Two men lost their lives near Gold Beach and four died when their boat went down off of Willapa Bay, Wash.
A third boat ran aground on the jetty at Yaquina Bay in Newport, but all four aboard survived.
“It was a rough weekend,” said Shawn Eggert, spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard. “Even leading into that we were having tows and disabled vessels. I don’t know if this is the most dangerous weekend we’ve had. I would say it certainly stands as a testament to the dangers of working in the waters off the Pacific Northwest.”
The first call for help came at about 5 p.m. Friday afternoon when witnesses called 9-1-1 to report seeing a 21-foot Boston Whaler flip at the mouth of the Rogue River in Gold Beach.
“What the witness told us was that the boat was negotiating the bar at the mouth of the river and somehow the boat had gotten sideways with the waves” said Bob Rector, Curry County undersheriff. “The waves were big enough that when a boat is parallel to a wave it is very susceptible to being flipped so that’s what happened.” (Read full article)