Fishing boat captain braves rough waters to save crewman

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The captain of a fishing boat “didn’t hesitate” and jumped into choppy, 47-degree water to save a crewman after their commercial vessel capsized off the coast of Alaska.

Amid 17-mph winds and 5-foot seas in the Kupreanof Strait near Raspberry Island — about 250 miles southwest of Anchorage — the captain, Christian Trosvig, and three crew members aboard the Grayling starting taking on water at about 3:30 p.m. Monday, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Coast Guard.

A nearby vessel, the Calista Marie, spotted the Grayling in trouble and notified Coast Guard officials — who were nearby on a training mission and arrived just in time to see Trosvig leap into the perilous waters to help an overboard crewman.

“That fisherman didn’t hesitate,” said Lt. Kevin Riley, an MH-60 Jayhawk pilot. “It is a testament to how tough those fishermen are and how far they will go to help fellow Alaskans.”

The captain of the Calista Marie, Dale Pruitt, told the Alaska Dispatch News that he noticed “something was wrong with the Grayling” when its stern sunk below the water’s surface.

“So I went over there and asked what was going on,” Pruitt, 57, said. “And he goes, ‘I can’t get the water out.’”

Pruitt said the Calista Marie began towing the Grayling to shore, but it unexpectedly rolled and sent its four fishermen into the water.

“So my skiff let go of them and started picking up people,” Pruitt said.

The crew aboard the Calista Marie rescued one person, while Trosvig and another crewman climbed aboard the Grayling’s skiff, according to Pruitt.

The fourth crewman was nowhere to be found, however, until about 20 minutes later — when the missing fisherman’s head popped above. Pruitt said Trosvig immediately jumped from the skiff back into the choppy sea and swam about 50 yards to reach the near-lifeless man.

“Chris was the hero. He saved that guy’s life,” Pruitt said. “Chris swam over there, grabbed him, pulled him into the skiff and gave him CPR for probably five minutes. That revived him.”

A 55-second video of Monday’s rescue from a camera on a Coast Guard helicopter shows Trosvig reaching the fisherman – whose head can be seen bobbing in the water.

Trosvig and two of his crew members reported no injuries during the capsizing, Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough told the Alaska Dispatch News. It was unclear what caused the boat to capsize.

The man rescued by Trosvig, meanwhile, was treated for hypothermia and aspiration of diesel fuel, Colclough said.