Crewman injured in harbor mishap

By Kurt Madar, The Triplicate May 09, 2009 09:15 am

Man was helping to download hake from boat

A deckhand on the fishing vessel Collier Brothers was injured by a tube full of water and fish Friday evening at Crescent City Harbor.

As the vessel was offloading hake, a species of cod fish, a piece of Caito Fisheries Inc. equipment broke and landed directly on the unidentified deckhand’s head, witnesses said.

Caito Fisheries Inc. buys sea food off the Crescent City docks and ships it to processing plants elsewhere.

“It looked like he was completely crushed,” said a Caito employee. “I mean, it must have weighed at least a thousand pounds.”

As emergency personnel worked to immobilize the fishermen, Collier Brothers crew members and fire department volunteers carefully removed a heap of fishing nets so the victim could be lifted to safety.

According to Crescent City Fire Chief Steve Wakefield, it was a tricky rescue because possible spinal injuries have to be treated carefully.

“It was relatively difficult to get him out,” Wakefield said. “He was stuck behind all that rope and stuff. It took a lot of cooperation between the medics and fire department.”

The accident happened during a usually routine part of a fishing vessel’s work cycle as crew members were off-loading catch, something every boat does a multitude of times.

“We were pumping out fish, and the pump was having problems,” Caito’s employee said. “It was running real slow and hard. Then, just like that, the sleeve broke.”

The sleeve is a piece of thick metal nearly 2 feet in length. The tubes used to suck hake from the fishing boat are attached to the sleeve, which hangs in the air nearly 10 feet off the deck of the boat.

“It usually takes three to four of us to move that thing around,” the employee said.

While the sleeve and attached tubing hangs off pulleys on the vessel, the Caito fisheries employee said that it was the metal of the sleeve itself that snapped and caused the accident.

“I’ve never seen anything like that happen before,” the employee said.

NorCal Seafood employee Kevin Wilson agreed that not only was the accident unusual, the amount of water and fish in the tubing was extremely heavy.

The Collier Brother’s captain declined to comment on the accident, but as the fire department lifted his deckhand from his boat immobilized, fellow crew members grimaced and bowed their heads.

According to emergency personnel, the deckhand was awake and aware during the rescue operation, and as he was loaded into the ambulance his eyes were open and he was responsive.

No additional information about his condition was available Friday night.

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