1 dead after 2 boats collide near Winter Harbor

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted June 30, 2010, at 3:16 p.m.

WINTER HARBOR, Maine — A local fisherman died Wednesday afternoon in the waters of Frenchman Bay when two lobster boats collided with each other off Schoodic Point.

Frank Jordan, 71, was thrown into the water when his vessel, the Linda Diane, col-lided with the Master Simon near Pond Island, off the west-ern side of Schoodic Point, ac-cording to the Coast Guard. Phil Torrey, captain of Master Simon, and his sternman were able to pull Jordan and his sternman from the water but could not revive Jordan. The Linda Diane sunk where it was struck, in about 85 feet of water, the Coast Guard indicated.

The names of the two stern-men, one on each vessel, were unavailable Wednesday after-noon.

Torrey, 37, and the two sternmen were not seriously injured in the collision, the Coast Guard said.

The sternman for the Linda Diane was checked at the pier by emergency medical services personnel and taken to an Ellsworth hospital as a precau-tion.

According to officials, the collision appears to have hap-pened accidentally as the cap-tains and crewmen were ab-sorbed in tasks on deck and failed to notice that the two boats were approaching each other.

“It was completely out of the blue,” said Christopher Wheeler, chief petty officer with the Coast Guard’s Sector Northern New England in South Portland.

The two lobster boats had been alongside each other — close enough for crew members to talk to each other — before the boats went in different di-rections, according to local Harbor Master Wesley Shaw. It’s unclear why they later col-lided, Shaw said.

After the incident, the Mas-ter Simon returned to Winter Harbor, where it sat for several hours tied up to the municipal pier as officers with the Coast Guard and Maine Marine Pa-trol interviewed Torrey and others and tried to piece the incident together. Jordan’s body lay covered with a sheet on the pier’s float as officials waited for employees with an Ellsworth funeral home to take him away.

According to officials at the scene, an autopsy is expected to be performed to determine Jor-dan’s cause of death.

Many local residents came down to the pier while the Mas-ter Simon was tied up to com-fort each other and to talk about the collision, which hap-pened around 1:30 p.m.

Local residents familiar with the men but who asked not to be identified said that Jordan had heart problems and there was no history of animosity between Jordan and Torrey. Jordan could have had a heart attack after the collision, they said, but he could have gone into cardiac arrest just before the collision, which may have contributed to the accident, they speculated.

Officers with Marine Patrol and the Coast Guard had no comment about the status of Jordan’s health before he died.

According to Shaw, Jordan was a longtime lobsterman who was active in the Winter Har-bor community. He had suf-fered a heart attack last fall and put his boat up for sale, but felt good enough after receiving a pacemaker to continue fishing for another season, Shaw said.

Wheeler said the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Office in Belfast is investigating the incident. As in any fatal accident, blood tests are expected to done on the four men to determine if any of them might have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the collision occurred, officials said.

Wheeler said the Coast Guard has not determined whether the Linda Diane poses a pollution hazard and should be recovered from the water. He said that task could end up being left to Jordan’s family.

“We haven’t gotten to that phase yet,” he said.

The Coast Guard said it has not received any reports of fuel leaking from the sunken vessel, which is not considered a hazard to navigation.

Coast Guard officials said conditions at the time of the collision included 9-knot winds, 3-foot swells and a water temperature of 57 degrees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/06/30/news/1-dead-after-2-boats-collide-near-winter-harbor/ printed on December 27, 2014