ROCKPORT, Mass. — A Rockland fisherman credits his father-in-law with saving his life when the commercial fishing vessel the two were on sank three miles off the coast of Rockport, Mass., on Friday night.
David Oakes, 46, of South Thomaston died, Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison confirmed Monday.
Later on Monday, Oakes’ son-in-law Jason Randall credited his father-in-law with saving his life.
Randall said Oakes had asked him to help bring back the 65-foot Terra Nova from Gloucester, Mass., where it had undergone repairs for the past three weeks. The work on the boat had been completed Thursday morning and Oakes and Randall had left Gloucester on Friday to bring the Terra Nova to Maine.
While they were steaming off Massachusetts, they noticed water pouring into the boat, according to Randall. He said Oakes immediately radioed the Coast Guard and asked whether they could fly out some pumps to help get rid of the water. The Coast Guard reported that the first distress call from the Terra Nova came in between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday.
“While David was on the radio, I went back down to the cabin and saw that a few more feet of water had come in just since he had been talking to the Coast Guard,” Randall said.
Randall said he ran to the pilot house and told Oakes, who notified the Coast Guard of the situation. Oakes then told Randall to put on a survival suit and Oakes donned one as well.
Randall said that as he was trying to get off the boat while it was sinking, he slipped and his father-in-law grabbed him and pushed him over the side to get clear of the vessel.
“That was the last time I saw him. His last act was to save my life,” Randall said.