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Purse seiner capsizes off South Beach, six rescued; two medflighted to mainland medical centers
A purse seiner rolled and sank off South Beach early this evening. Six people were retrieved from the strait, reportedly by U.S. Coast Guard and nearby fishing vessels.
Sheriff Bill Cumming said the boat was the Anna J. The skipper, Charles Chevalier, and a crew member, Nick Nash, were medflighted to mainland hospitals – Chevalier, to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition; Nash, to St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham.
Four other crewmembers were described as OK by emergency personnel on the scene; one crew member declined medical care and left the scene after being released by medical personnel.
The others -- identified by a family member as John Cayou, Ken Edwards, Adam Sam, and Bernadette Stone -- were pulled from the water by a nearby fishing boat and were expected to leave the island by ferry this evening.
Family members confirmed that Chevalier was flown to Harborview. Nash was expected by family members to be released from St. Joseph possibly tonight.
Cumming said the Anna J rolled after its boom swung out with its net full of fish. Becky Nash, Nash’s sister-in-law, said she was at the beach earlier in the day and the water looked "really rough," with white caps.
Because of the sea conditions – swells, according to EMS Chief Jim Cole – Chevalier, Nash and Sam were taken to the Cape San Juan Marina, where they were treated. Chevalier and Nash were stabilized and transported in separate ambulances to Cattle Point, where Airlift Northwest helicopters flew them to mainland hospitals.
Jack Giard, a Lopez Island fisherman and member of the Pacific Salmon Commission, expected word to travel fast in the fishing community about Chevalier. "Being who he is, there's going to be a whole lot of concern," said Giard, a friend of Chevalier's. "I'm sure going to be saying a prayer for him and his family."
More details will be posted as they are received.