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Coast Guard, Department of Ecology, IOSA respond to sheen produced by capsized fishing vessel

Top photo, Nick Nash, a crew member of the Anna J, is loaded onto an ambulance at the Cape San Juan Marina, for transport to a waiting medflight from Cattle Point to St. Joseph Hospital, Friday. Six people were rescued from the strait when the boat sank; the skipper, Charles Chevalier, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. Bottom photo, emergency personnel prepare to load Nash
Top photo, Nick Nash, a crew member of the Anna J, is loaded onto an ambulance at the Cape San Juan Marina, for transport to a waiting medflight from Cattle Point to St. Joseph Hospital, Friday. Six people were rescued from the strait when the boat sank; the skipper, Charles Chevalier, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. Bottom photo, emergency personnel prepare to load Nash's gurney onto an Airlift Northwest helicopter for transport to St. Joseph Hospital.
— image credit: Molly Neely-Walker

The U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Ecology and Islands' Oil Spill Association are responding this morning to the sheen created by the sinking of the fishing vessel Anna J, about a half-mile south of Eagle Cove, Friday.

Agencies are conducting over-flights to determine the extent of the sheen and possible environmental impact, as well as coordinating with oil recovery specialists.

"We woke up quite a few people up until midnight last night to get responders on stand-by to head out as soon as it was light enough this morning, walking the shoreline and crewing the Sea Goose," Jackie Wolf of IOSA said this morning. "More calls (started) at 5 this morning."

Wolf said IOSA responders are assessing the shoreline "all along the South Beach area and up to Eagle Cove -- nothing in Eagle Cove. The Department of Ecology is also doing shoreline assessment from land, the Coast Guard by boat. A flyover by the Coast Guard earlier this morning showed an approximate 2 mile long, 40-foot wide sheen in the area but nothing recoverable yet.

"The IOSA mothership, the Sea Goose, should be arriving on-scene at any time and by then we'll have determined what the DOE and the Coast Guard want us to do. Probably we'll set boom around where the vessel went down to contain any release of pollutants and at some point divers will go down and pump the tanks to empty them of any remaining fuel. That's a probably -- not sure yet."

SHERIFF'S STATEMENT ABOUT SINKING: Sheriff Bill Cumming issued the following statement last night 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.

The other crew members were 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.

EARLIER STORY: 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.

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