Coast Guard suspends search for man overboard

SEATTLE – The Coast Guard suspended the search for a fisherman who fell overboard five miles northwest Florence, Ore., today.

Coast Guard Group North Bend received a mayday call at 7:20 a.m. from the 75-foot fishing vessel Zora Belle that one of their crew members had fallen overboard and was believed to be unconscious.

Coast Guard Air Station North Bend and Coast Guard Air Facility Newport both launched HH-65C Dolphin helicopter crews to the scene along with two 47-foot motor lifeboat crews from Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River. Helicopter crews were on scene in 25 minutes.

The man who fell overboard was wearing yellow rain gear but was not wearing a life jacket.

Weather conditions on scene were 20 to 25 knot winds combined with 13-foot seas and 10 mile visibility. The water in the area was 50 degrees.

The decision to suspend the search was only made after rescuers from Station Siuslaw River and Air Station North Bend searched a 100 square mile area for over eight hours. Expected survivability in these conditions is approximately four and a half hours.

Initial reports indicate that the victim was not wearing a life jacket at the time he fell overboard. Falls overboard are a primary cause of fatalities in the fishing industry according to Coast Guard marine casualty statistics. Wearing a life jacket dramatically improves survivability of man overboard accidents.

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