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Monday, March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024

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Coast Guard suspends search for missing person off Southwest Washington Coast


The U.S. Coast Guard and partner agencies have suspended search efforts for a missing man from a 46-foot crab boat that went down Sunday evening at the mouth of Willapa Bay in Pacific County.

Two other crew from the vessel were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter team.

Rescue crews completed 18 different search patterns, covering 290 square miles over 15 hours of searching, according to the Coast Guard.

Sunday evening brought rough weather and big waves to the coastal waters off Southwest Washington.

Coast Guard teams received an emergency position-indicating radio beacon from the vessel, the FV Ethel May, that began broadcasting a signal as it went down around 7:30 p.m. Sunday near the mouth of Willapa Bay.

The wife of one of the crabbers aboard the vessel called 911 to report an emergency on the boat, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard helicopter was on the scene around 8:10 p.m. The two rescued crew members suffered mild hypothermia and were taken to the Willapa Bay Airport in Raymond, Pacific County.

Search crews have located debris from the boat in Willapa Bay and nearby waters in the Pacific. That indicates the vessel has broken apart, according to a Coast Guard statement.

“Suspending search efforts is a tough decision that we never take lightly,” Lt. Cmdr. Colin Fogarty, the search and rescue mission coordinator for Sector Columbia River, said in a statement.

“This search involved close coordination between state and local agencies. We truly appreciate their assistance, especially from Pacific County. The Coast Guard continues to speak with the family affected by this incident,” Fogarty added.

The accident marked a treacherous start this month to the state’s coastal commercial harvest of Dungeness crab.