The Dungeness boat Mary B II capsized in crossing the bar in Newport, Ore.’s Yaquina Bay on Tuesday night. All three members of her crew died at sea.
The 42-foot wooden boat was being assisted by the Coast Guard in the crossing because the bar was restricted by 12- to 15-foot seas. Two of the crew were pitched overboard. James Lacey, 48, from South Toms River, N.J., was pulled from the water. Joshua Porter, 50, of Toledo, Ore., was discovered onshore shortly after midnight. Both were unresponsive, the Coast Guard reported. Lacey was declared dead at the hospital, and Porter was pronounced dead at the scene.
The skipper, identified as Stephen Biernacki, 50, from Barnegat Township, N.J., was trapped in the wheelhouse. The Coast Guard reported last night that he had not survived but was not recoverable immediately. He was eventually pronounced dead at the scene.
“We did everything we could. Unfortunately, it was just a tragic outcome. And our hearts and thoughts are with the family and friends of the crew,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Levi Reed.
The season opened on Jan. 4, in stormy seas.
“We are all really saddened by it,” Ernie Panacek, dock manager at Viking Village in Barnegat Light, told the Asbury Park Press. “We knew them both. Steve had high hopes. He just bought that boat in the fall and got his Dungeness crab permit.”
The Newport fleet was a draw for “Deadliest Catch” producers, which launched a spin-off, “Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove,” based on the dangers of crossing the bar in the often-stormy Pacific crab season.
If you would like to help, please contact the Newport Fishermen’s Wives.