Four Killed Near Bodega Bay After Crabbing Boat Capsizes

Photo courtesy SCSO
Photo courtesy SCSO

Four fisherman were killed and one other was rescued Saturday morning after their 32-foot fishing boat capsized near Bodega Bay in northern California.

The U.S. Coast Guard was notified at approximately 10 a.m. Saturday morning that a fishing vessel had capsized with multiple people in the water near Seal Rock.

Once on scene, crews from Station Bodega Bay, Auxiliary, State Lifeguards, Bodega Bay and Monte Rio Fire Departments recovered four unresponsive persons from the water and transferred them ashore to awaiting emergency medical service personnel at Station Bodega Bay. A fifth person, wearing no lifejacket and dressed only in t-shirt and jeans, was recovered from a nearby rock with minor scraps and abrasions.

Tragically, the four victims pulled from the water did not survive.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office reported the sole survivor as Phillip Sanchez, a 66 year old resident of Bodega Bay.

Sanchez later told investigators that the group departed from Bodega on the privately-owned 32 foot fishing boat at 8:30 a.m. After completing a day of crabbing, they were headed back to Bodega when a wave hit the port side of the boat, causing it to slip. Sanchez said he was thrown into the water and swam towards Bodega Rock, where he clung until rescued.

The Sheriff’s Office statement added that none of the people aboard were wearing life vests, although they were present and available on the boat. It is not believed that alcohol or drugs played any part in the incident.

“The cause of the accident remains under investigation, but commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States,” said Capt. Greg Stump, commander, Sector San Francisco. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends who lost loved ones today. Our partner agencies in Bodega Bay were extremely responsive, resulting in the quick rescue of one individual and the recovery of four who unfortunately did not survive the perils of the sea.”

Saturday, November 1st, marked the first day of recreational Dungeness crab season in California.