SEATTLE — The fog was very thick at 4:30 Friday morning 30 miles off the Washington Coast where the 40-foot fishing boat Maverick was drifting when it was hit and sunk by the 90-foot fishing boat Viking Storm, the Coast Guard said.
Exactly how the collision happened is the subject of a Coast Guard investigation that will likely take months, but the Maverick went down quickly, and only three of the four people on board survived.
"It was very, very thick fog -- visibility about 40-foot," Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Denning, chief of marine investigation in Seattle, said Monday. "Visibility was certainly an issue."
The bigger boat hit the smaller boat on the left side toward the front, Denning said.
The missing crewman, Kelly Dickerson, was in a room in the forward part of the ship and the Maverick sank bow first.
"He was trapped," Denning said.
One crew member made it out of the vessel, and helped the other two crew members free themselves by breaking a window. The three survivors landed in the water without time to put on life jackets or survival suits.
"They narrowly escaped," Denning said.
They were picked up within 5 minutes by the crew of the Viking Storm.
The Coast Guard received an emergency beacon signal from the Maverick about the same time the Viking Storm reported the collision in the Pacific off La Push.
Coast Guard boats and a helicopter looked for more than a day before the search was suspended Saturday. Dickerson, 32, of Port Angeles, was presumed drowned.
His father, Darby Dickerson, 66, of Port Angeles, was the owner and captain of the Maverick and was on watch at the time of the collision. The long-liner, home port Seattle, had been out fishing for black cod and had 1,800 pounds on board.
The Viking Storm, a trawler out of Vancouver, B.C., had a full load of 130 tons of hagfish caught in Canadian waters that it was taking to Grays Harbor on the Washington Coast. It was traveling at 8 to 10 mph, Denning said.
Both vessels had radar.