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Originally published Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 9:04 PM

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Seattle fishing boat sank after collision in dense fog

A fishing boat home-ported in Seattle sank last Friday off the Washington coast, taking the life of one crew member.

The Associated Press

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The fog was very thick 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. The Maverick, home-ported in Seattle, went down fast, and only three of the four on board survived.

"It was very, very thick fog, visibility about 40-foot," said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Denning, chief of marine investigation in Seattle said Monday.

The missing crewman, Kelly Dickerson, 32, was in the forward part of the ship and the Maverick sank bow first.

"He was trapped," Denning said.

One crew member made it out of the vessel and helped two others free themselves by breaking a window. The three survivors landed in the water without time to don life jackets or survival suits.

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

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

The Coast Guard looked for more than a day before the search for Dickerson was suspended. The Port Angeles man is 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 had been out fishing for black cod and had 1,800 pounds on board.

The Viking Storm, a trawler out of Vancouver, B.C., had a full load of 130 tons of hagfish caught in Canadian waters and was taking it to Grays Harbor. It was traveling at 8 to 10 mph, Denning said.

Both vessels had radar.

"Both as far as we know were working," Denning said.

The three survivors were transferred by the Coast Guard to the Quileute Harbor Marina at La Push. The captain had moored and fished out of La Push for decades, said tribal spokeswoman Jackie Jacobs. The tribal council extends its condolences to the Dickerson family, she said.

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 damage in excess of $100,000.

Both crews were tested, but 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 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, Denning 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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