Coast Guard, partner agencies search for missing man near Willapa Bay entrance

ASTORIA Ore. – The Coast Guard and other agencies are searching for a missing man who was aboard a vessel in distress Sunday off the coast of Washington near the Willapa Bay entrance.

Watchstanders at the Thirteenth Coast Guard District in Seattle received an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon transmission Sunday at approximately 7:30 p.m. from the 46-foot crabbing vessel Ethel May near the Willapa Bay Entrance.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River in Warrenton, Oregon, were notified that the wife of one of the men aboard the vessel called 911 to report an emergency aboard the vessel.

Watchstanders directed the launch of a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Astoria and 47- foot Motor Lifeboat crews from Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor to assist the mariners in distress.

The aircrew arrived on scene at approximately 8:10 p.m. and safely hoisted 2 individuals from a life raft. The survivors reported a third and final crewmember was still missing.

Both survivors were taken ashore to awaiting emergency medical services and then taken to Willapa Harbor Hospital for further evaluation.

The aircrew returned to the scene and, along with the Coast Guard boatcrew, searched the area throughout the night for the missing crewmember.

Search crews located debris from the vessel within Willapa Bay and the abutting waters of the pacific, indicating the vessel has broken apart.

“We want nothing more than to find the last individual from the fishing vessel Ethel May,” said Lt. Cmdr. Colin Fogarty, the search and rescue mission coordinator for Sector Columbia River. “Since the Coast Guard received initial reports, our operators have been diligently carrying out search operations. We have assets on the water, in the air, and on shore from four different Coast Guard units and we are interfacing with local agencies to effectively search Willapa Bay and the surrounding area.”

Involved in the search are:

  • Coast Guard Air Station Astoria
  • Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor
  • Coast Guard Sector North Bend
  • Coast Guard Sector Columbia River
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine and shoreside search personnel
  • Coast Guard Incident Management Personnel from Sector Columbia River searching from the shore using a side-by-side vehicle.