A Cushing, Maine, lobsterman charged with seaman’s manslaughter in the death of two crewmen in 2014 has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Christopher A. Hutchinson, 30, pleaded guilty to the charges in September.
According to court records, Hutchinson took his 45-foot lobster boat No Limits and his two crewmen into a forecasted storm in on November 1, 2014, after drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. He also abused prescription opiod oxycodone before or during the fishing trip, although a federal judge restricted the ability to use the results of that blood test after a battle over Hutchinson's consent to give blood.
The boat ultimately capsized and sank in heavy seas while returning to port after hauling lobster traps for several hours. The boat's EPIRB alerted the Coast Guard at 1:20 p.m. and Hutchinson was located a rescued at about 4 p.m.The Coast Guard located the bow of the No Limits at about 5 p.m., with no signs of life. The bodies of the two crewmen — Tomas Hammond, 27, and Tyler Sawyer, 15 — were never recovered.
“The case was a heartbreaking tragedy. Two young men lost their lives. One of those leaves a young son who is now fatherless. Many parents are grieving," said U.S. District Court by Judge D. Brock Hornby in announcing the sentence.
Over four years after the incident, Hutchinson has been sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release.
"This case is a terrible tragedy. In the cases of the victim’s families, there is nothing worse for parents than the death of their child. The defendant was the captain of the boat and was responsible for the safety of his crew. Rather than live up to his responsibility, he engaged in risky, reckless behavior that cost the lives of two young men," said U.S. attorney Halsey B. Frank in a statement. "While nothing can replace those young men, hopefully, this case will send a clear message that captains will be held accountable for such losses.”