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Newport fisherman had concerns about skipper, friend says

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NEWPORT, Ore. (KOIN) — A friend of one of the fishermen who died Tuesday night off the coast of Newport said there were concerns about a crewmate’s experience. 

Stephen Biernacki, James Lacey, and Joshua Porter were on board the Mary B. II when it capsized attempting to cross the bar into Yaquina Bay. 

Coast Guard officials said the boat was overturned by a 20-foot wave as it entered the jetty in an area filled with large rocks. 

Local fishermen know about the unique dangers in crossing the sand bar — especially at this time of year during crabbing season — and ocean conditions were particularly rough Tuesday night. 

Lacey, a 48-year-old from New Jersey, was pulled from the water about an hour after the boat capsized. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. 

Porter, a 50-year-old from Toleda, Oregon, was found dead on the beach near Nye Beach. 

The vessel’s skipper, 50-year-old Biernacki of New Jersey, was found with the boat when it eventually washed up on the beach near the north side of the Yaquina Bay North Jetty. 

Local fisherman and friend of Porter’s, Dave Rohr, told KOIN 6 News Porter had expressed concerns about Biernacki’s experience navigating the dangerous Yaquina Bay Bar. 

“As he was going out and I could see the look on his face — the concern that he had about his skipper’s capabilities,” said Rohr. “I just talked to him not even 10 hours before this happened … It really sucks.” 

Rohr said he himself was even asked to come aboard the Mary B. II as it traveled across the bar — a trip he’s now thankful he didn’t take. 

Community members held a candlelight vigil for Porter, who leaves behind a wife. A GoFundMe page has also been setup for his family. The Newport Fishermen’s Wives organization is raising funds to help provide relief for the victims’ families.

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