AP NEWS

Troopers: Fisherman’s death in Bering Sea appears accidental

May 11, 2018

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — A 55-year-old man injured aboard a fishing vessel in the Bering Sea has died.

Christopher O’Callaghan suffered bruising and internal injuries resulting in his death after a slack line suddenly went taut and struck him in the chest aboard the 95-foot (29-meter) F/V Ocean Hunter, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Wednesday.

The Alaska State Troopers’ dispatch said O’Callaghan was on the deck while the vessel was tied to another vessel in the open sea, transferring fish, when he was injured.

“The incident was witnessed by several crewmembers,” the dispatch stated.

Troopers’ spokeswoman Megan Peters said the death appears to have been accidental. Officials are still looking into how it happened.

Alaska Weathervane Seafoods owns the fishing vessel. The company specializes in catching and rapidly freezing weathervane scallops for shipment around the world. It also fishes for Pacific cod in the Bering Sea.

The company did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Commercial fishing is one of the most hazardous occupations in the U.S., with a fatality rate 29 times higher than average, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But a 2016 report by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said fishing was getting safer in Alaska — citing longer seasons that reduced overloading, improved vessel safety and a culture of safety embraced by fishermen.

From October 2014 through September 2015, no one in Alaska died in a commercial fishing incident, the Coast Guard reported. It was the first year without a reported fishing death in the state.

Forty five deaths were reported in Alaska from commercial fishing incidents from 2010-2014.

Of those, 15 fatalities were caused by vessel disasters, 14 were from falls overboard and 12 were caused by injuries onboard, according to a Centers for Disease Control report.

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Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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