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Originally published Monday, October 1, 2012 at 11:51 AM

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Coast Guard investigating collision off WA coast

It was foggy at 4:30 Friday morning 30 miles off the Washington coast where the 40-foot fishing boat Maverick was drifting when it was hit and sunk by the 90-foot fishing boat Viking Storm, the Coast Guard said.

The Associated Press

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SEATTLE —

It was foggy at 4:30 Friday morning 30 miles off the Washington coast where the 40-foot fishing boat Maverick was drifting when it was hit and sunk by the 90-foot fishing boat Viking Storm, the Coast Guard said.

Exactly how the collision happened is the subject of a Coast Guard investigation that will likely take months, but the Maverick went down quickly, and only three of the four people on board survived.

The missing crewman, Kelly Dickerson, was in a room in the forward part of the ship and the Maverick sank bow first.

"He was trapped," Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Denning, chief of marine investigation in Seattle said Monday.

At least one other crew member was trapped as well, but made it out by breaking a window. The three survivors landed in the water without time to put on life jackets or survival suits.

"They narrowly escaped," Denning said.

They were picked up within 5 minutes by the crew of the Viking Storm.

The Coast Guard received an emergency beacon signal from the Maverick about the same time the Viking Storm reported the collision in the Pacific off La Push.

Coast Guard boats and a helicopter looked for more than a day before the search was suspended Saturday. Dickerson, 32, was presumed drowned.

His father, Darby Dickerson, 66, of Port Angeles, was the owner and captain of the Maverick and was on watch at the time of the collision. The long-liner, home port Seattle, had been out fishing for black cod.

The Viking Storm, home port Vancouver, British Columbia, had a full load of hagfish caught in Canadian waters that it was taking to Grays Harbor. It was traveling at 8 to 10 mph, Denning said.

Both vessels had radar operating.

"Fog was a significant factor," Denning said. "Visibility was certainly an issue."

The three survivors were in good condition and transferred by the Coast Guard to the Quileute Harbor Marina at La Push.

The Viking Storm returned to Canada and took its hagfish to Ucluelet on the west side of Vancouver Island.

A joint investigation with Canadian officials began immediately, Denning said, for what's called a "serious marine incident" because of the loss of life and property loss of between $100,000 and $500,000.

An investigator was flown to the scene and tested both crews for alcohol. No evidence of alcohol use was found. Drug tests are pending, Denning said. The investigator also flew to Victoria, B.C., and went to Ucluelet on Sunday with Canadian investigators to check the Viking Storm navigation equipment and interview its three crew members. The Viking Storm did not take on water from the collision, Denny said.

The Maverick had 500 gallons of diesel on board, 2 gallons of gasoline and 6 gallons of lube oil. None of it could be recovered because the vessel sank in 1,600 feet of water, said Lt. j.g. Chelsey Olson of the incident management division. The Coast Guard notified Olympic National Park, the NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and the Hoh, Quinault and Quileute tribes of the possible pollution.

The goal of the Coast Guard investigation is to make safety recommendations that would prevent a similar collision from happening again, Denning said. There's also a possibility of civil penalties or criminal sanctions.

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