Oregon Coast

3 dead after crab boat capsizes in Newport

Mary B II capsized while crossing Yaquina Bay Bar

NEWPORT, Ore. (KOIN) -- A commercial crab vessel capsized late Tuesday night while it crossed Yaquina Bay Bar in Newport -- killing the three fishermen on board.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the Mary B. II capsized at 10:13 p.m, after the boat was hit by multiple breaking waves as it crossed the bar. 

A petty officer with the Coast Guard who witnessed the incident said they was escorting boats all night due to the rough weather. 

Officials said the fishermen did not make a distress call but requested an escort, which was provided by the Victory, a 52-foot motor life boat.

The Victory was nearby when the Mary B. II capsized "without warning." Two of the crew members were thrown overboard at that point. 

"They took about a 20-foot breaker over the bow," Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Malloy said. "We lost total visibility of the vessel. We launched off multiple illumination flares to light up 100,000 candlepower for 36 seconds. We requested a helicopter come and launch from Newport and we started searching for survivors."

Newport News Times newspaper: First crab just 'beautiful' 

Crews faced 12-14 foot waves during the initial response as they tried to rescue the men. They pulled one man -- 48-year-old James Lacey -- from the water about an hour later. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

At 12:28 a.m. Wednesday, crews found the body of 50-year-old Joshua Porter on the beach, near Nye Beach.

The Mary B II eventually washed up on the beach near the north side of the Yaquina Bay North Jetty. The boat skipper -- 50-year-old Stephen Biernacki -- was found with the boat and pronounced dead.

Porter was from nearby Toledo, Ore. and according to a GoFundMe set up for his family, he was the sole provider for his loving family and had been sober for 12 years.

Biernacki and Lacey were from New Jersey. 

All three names will be added to the fishermen's memorial at Yaquina Bay State Park, where a vigil was held Wednesday night.

The Coast Guard is still investigating the incident. 

Commercial Dungeness crab season recently started and according to other boat owners, conditions have been rough all week.

"It's a very dangerous fishery this winter," Silverquest boat owner Mark Newell told KOIN 6 News. "Having to come across that bar at night and unpredictable swells. It's very dangerous, especially on these small boats."

Newell said he knew one of the fishermen. While work has to go own because of a very limited timeframe, Newell said the loss of one crab boat has saddened the entire community.

"About every other year, we lose a boat or two -- either in this port or somewhere up and down the coast," he said. "We're all friends and we all work together and it's a loss for the whole community."

The Newport Fishermen's Wives is asking for donations for their loved ones

Cole Miller contributed to this report


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