One mariner was rescued, while two others were tragically killed in the early hours of June 29, 2020, after the sinking of fishing vessel AQUARIUS near Florence, Oregon. The deceased were later identified as the owners of Florence’s Novelli’s Crab & Seafood restaurant, Kyle and Amber Novelli.

The incident began at approximately 1:50 a.m. when a U.S. Coast Guard watchstander received a distress call from the Vessel’s captain.  After striking the south jetty in the Siuslaw River Bar, the Vessel was taking on water, and all crewmembers were abandoning ship. The U.S. Coast Guard 13th District command center later received a signal from the Vessel’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). Conditions in the area were reportedly 6 to 8-foot seas with occasional 10-foot waves.

The U.S. Coast Guard Air Facility Newport launched a rescue helicopter that arrived on the scene at 2:50 a.m. Rescue boat crews from Station Siuslaw River and Station Umpqua River assisted with the search for survivors from the water, while several local agencies assisted with searching from the shore.

One responsive person was found near the shoreline. The victim, who has not yet been identified, confirmed that two others were onboard—the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew later located and recovered a second unresponsive person from the water.  The final unresponsive mariner was located at approximately 7:00 a.m.  Two of the three crewmembers tragically passed.

According to the Oregon State Marine Board, the Siuslaw River Bar has a very narrow channel extending beyond the jetties.  Like other bars in Oregon, it is known for its difficult navigating conditions.

These unfortunate casualties are saddening losses for the Oregon commercial fishing community.  We await the results of the initial investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard.

With an office in Portland, Oregon, BOATLAW, LLP has represented fishermen and their families for over forty years.  The firm’s admiralty lawyers have a unique understanding of the dangers faced by commercial fishermen.

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