The Washington crab fishing vessel Ethel May has tragically sunk near the Willapa Bay Bar. Two crewmen have been reportedly saved by a Coast Guard helicopter, but a third crewman, Byron Fitch from Bay Center, remains missing. The Willapa Bar entrance is particularly hazardous with high winds and strong tides creating fierce conditions for fishing vessels. The search for the missing fisherman has involved both land, sea, and air resources in hope that the missing crewman might still be found.
Notice the fishing vessel was in trouble first came from a crewman’s call via telephone to a family member who was on shore. Shortly thereafter the vessel’s EPIRB signal was also received setting the search and rescue in full motion. The two surviving crewmembers were reportedly able to get into the vessel’s survival raft from where they were latter pulled to safety by a USCG helicopter.
The F/V Ethel May was working in the Dungeness crab fishery which started February first. Early investigation identifies the Ehel May as being 60 feet in length and home ported in Westport, Washington. The vessel was reportedly built in 1948. The cause of the sinking is not currently known and will be the subject of further investigation by the Coast Guard. This post will be updated as more information becomes available.