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Purse seiner Anna J capsizes off South Beach: Six rescued, Charles Chevalier taken to Harborview in critical condition
BREAKING NEWS: Sheriff Bill Cumming issued the following statement regarding the capsize and sinking of the Anna J:
At approximately 1840 hrs, San Juan County Sheriff Dispatch received information that a boat had sunk off the South Beach of San Juan Island.
San Juan County Sheriff Vessel Guardian responded with three deputies on board. Information stated six people were in the water and being taken aboard a commercial fishing vessel in the immediate area.
San Juan EMS responded to Fish Creek Marina and received three injured crewmen from the Guardian. Three other crewmen were transported by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel after receiving them from a commercial fishing vessel. District 3 Fire assisted in securing a landing zone at the Interpretive Center at Cattle Point Beach for Airlift to provide medical evacuation for two crew members.
Condition of other crew members determined to be OK.
Charles Chevalier, owner and skipper of the Anna J, a commercial fishing vessel from Friday Harbor, received transport to Harborview in Seattle. He is in serious condition.
Nick Nash received a head injury and was transported to St. Joseph in Bellingham.
It is believed that a rigging failure unbalanced the vessel, causing it to roll and sink in 50 feet of water.
IOSA will monitor any spill issues associated with the sinking.
Veteran island fisherman Charles Chevalier nearly drowned and a family member was injured when his purse seiner, the Anna J, rolled and sank about 6:30 p.m. while taking on a load of humpies off South Beach.
Chevalier and his five crewmembers were retrieved from the water by nearby fishermen and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Sheriff Bill Cumming said Chevalier nearly drowned. Chevalier was medflighted to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. Nick Nash, his cousin, was medflighted to St. Joseph Hospital but was expected to be released tonight.
The other crewmembers -- John Cayou, Ken Edwards, Adam Sam and Bernadette Stone – were released on island and returned to the mainland on the 10 p.m. ferry from Friday Harbor.
All fishermen are Swinomish.
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 each stabilized and transported separately by ambulance to Cattle Point. Chevalier was medflighted to Harborview, Nash to St. Joseph.
Jack Giard, a Lopez Island fisherman and member of the Pacific Salmon Commission, expected word to travel fast in the fishing community about Chevalier.
“He’s a great guy. 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 published as they are received.