Fishing boat crew drowns

Police are investigating the death of a fishing boat crew member who reportedly drowned near the island of Guguan Saturday night. The boat carrying the body only arrived on Saipan the following night. Police Officer Jason Tarkong said yesterday that Dr. Martin Rohringer pronounced the victim dead upon arrival at the Commonwealth Health Center Sunday at 5:47pm. “This case is still under investigation and any further information will be reviewed and made available pending approval,” Tarkong said. He withheld the victim’s name but described him as a 42-year-old Chuukese. Tarkong said that on Sunday at 7:41am the Emergency Management Office called DPS Central to report a dead person. EMO informed DPS that one of the crew members of a fishing boat fell into the water. EMO said crew members recovered the victim near the Guguan Island but he was already dead. Tarkong said the boat—M/V San Antonio, a 42-foot fishing vessel—arrived at Smiling Cove Marina on Saipan Sunday at 5:25pm. He said the victim had no pulse and was not breathing. “The body was stiff and rigor mortis had already set in,” he added. Based on detective Elias Saralu’s interview with the boat’s captain, Tarkong said the vessel departed Saipan last Thursday at 5pm to go fishing on Pagan. The boat arrived on Pagan Friday night and the crew started trolling early Saturday morning. The crew then proceeded to the islands of Alamagan and Guguan. On Saturday at 6:30pm, the crew stopped fishing because the water was too rough. The boat captain turned the boat around to go back to Saipan. As the vessel was passing Guguan, the victim got up and walked outside the boat’s cabin. The captain told the victim to wait because the water was too rough. The victim was last seen outside on the rear of the boat when crew members heard him shout. The victim was seen floating in the water and the captain stopped the boat and put it into reverse to start rescue operations. After repeated throws of a rope with a buoy attached to it, the victim finally grabbed it. It, however, took the crew 20 minutes to finally pull the victim in. By that time, the victim had no pulse and was no longer breathing. The crew tried to resuscitate the victim but failed to revive him. The captain continued driving the boat toward Saipan and attempted to contact EMO and Civil Defense, but got to response. It was Sunday at 7am when EMO finally responded to their emergency call. At that time, the boat was next to the island of Anatahan. The boat later had engine problems. The crew was forced to stop and repair the engine. The vessel finally arrived on Saipan Sunday night. The victim was then transported to CHC.
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