On January 8th, the Mary B II capsized as it crossed the Yaquina Bay bar in Newport, Oregon. Sadley, three fisherman on board the ship were killed in the accident. James Lacey, 48, Joshua Porter, 50, and the boat’s skipper, Stephen Biernacki, 50, were found dead after crews faced 14-foot waves to try and rescue them.
“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,” Petty Officer Levi Reed of the U.S. Coast Guard told a local CBS affiliate.
When the accident first happened, it was reported that the Mary B II had appeared on the hit Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch. However, this later turned out to be untrue. Despite not knowing the fisherman personally, the network still released a statement on their tragic deaths.
“We feel deeply saddened by the news, as we feel part of the crabbing community,” the network said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and the entire community during this difficult time.”
Porter, Biernacki, and Lacey were the only three crew members on the ship that night. The Coast Guard said they had warned a number of boats that evening that the conditions on the water were dangerous, and the Mary B II radioed to try and get an escort across the bar. Unfortunately, the boat did not make it, as a 16-foot wave hit.
“Under complete darkness and breaking waves in excess of 16 to 18 feet, it was unsafe for us to attempt to get our boats inside a rocky known hazardous area without jeopardizing the safety of our crew,” said Executive Petty Officer Jason McCommons.
Joshua Porter was well-loved on the Oregon Coast, and he had fished their for over 25 years. People took the time to pay their respects the next day, with his wife Denise saying he loved helping people in his spare time. The other two men were from New Jersey and relatively inexperienced in crabbing, which is why they asked for Porter’s help.
“It got really rough out there,” Ian Wood, a friend of Porter, said. “And they just shouldn’t have been out there.”
“Josh was one of those people that wherever he went his light just shone,” Melissa Gifford said. “He was kind and gentle and loving and giving. He would help whoever he could. People were attracted to him because he was a gentle, humble guy.”
“I don’t know a single person that could say a bad thing about him. He’s just one of the most earnest people that I’ve ever dealt with,” said Perry Bourdeaux, who fished with Porter. “He was always very nice, friendly, always had a big smile.”
“This is Newport, and you know a lot of fishermen,” said Sky Allen who knew Porter for years. “They don’t come back, and it’s really sad. But this one kind of hit close to home for a lot of people here.”