‘He was pretty hungry’: Fisherman missing 2 weeks off Washington found alive

‘He was pretty hungry’: Fisherman missing 2 weeks off Washington found alive

Sailors spotted a life raft about 46 miles off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Inside was a missing fisherman who survived by eating raw salmon.

Eric Lagatta

Hope had all but vanished for two fishermen missing off the Washington coast for two weeks when sailors made a miraculous discovery: One of them alive and adrift in a small lifeboat in the vast Pacific Ocean.

The fishermen left a harbor on Oct. 12 off the coast of Washington for what was to be a three-day excursion. Days after their boat failed to return, the U.S. Coast Guard launched a massive search that was called off Wednesday after rescuers failed to find them.

But the very next day, sailors spotted a life raft about 46 miles off the west coast of Vancouver Island, according to the Coast Guard.

“I saw what looked like a life raft in the distance and ran inside and put the binoculars on him and then he shot off a flare,” Ryan Planes, who helped save the fisherman along with his uncle John, told KING-TV in Seattle.

“We pulled him on board,” John told the station. ‘He gave me a big hug … It was emotional.”

#BreakingNews (1/2) #UPDATE 1 of the 2 missing mariners was located alive in a life raft approx. 70 miles NW of Cape Flattery, by good Samaritans. The man was transported to shore by @CoastGuardCAN in coordination with @VicJRCC_CCCOS. He’s reported to be in stable condition. pic.twitter.com/Qb2QhwIKb3

— USCGPacificNorthwest (@USCGPacificNW) October 26, 2023

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Missing sailors never returned from 3-day trip

The two California fishermen set off from Grays Harbor in Westport on Oct. 12 aboard a 43-foot boat named the Evening with the intent of returning on Oct. 15.

But the sailors never docked again, and when one of the men’s daughters realized her father wasn’t aboard his flight home, she alerted the Coast Guard on Oct. 22. Two days later, the Pacific Northwest Coast Guard began searching for them Tuesday, the agency said on X.

However, within eight hours the agency said Wednesday it had called off the rescue operation after scouring 14,000 square miles of ocean.

“Our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the missing people during this difficult time,” the Coast Guard said Wednesday on X.

The second fisherman remains missing, and the Coast Guard said it is still investigating.

#BREAKING USCG searching for the 43-foot vessel Evening with 2 people aboard, which departed Grays Harbor Oct. 12 and reportedly intended to return Oct. 15. Anyone with information regarding the location of this vessel is requested to contact the USCG at 206-220-7001 pic.twitter.com/245WsD35KT

— USCGPacificNorthwest (@USCGPacificNW) October 24, 2023

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Coast Guard says ‘good Samaritans’ found one fisherman

Salvation came for one of the missing mariners after two “good Samaritans” spotted his life raft Thursday, the Coast Guard said.

The Associated Press reported that the rescuers were in the Canada-based fishing vessel, the Ocean Sunset.

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It’s unclear how the rescuers found the fisherman floating in the lifeboat, which was located about 70 miles northwest of shore. A photo shared by the Coast Guard shows two men standing at the edge of a vessel approaching the covered raft, where the missing fisherman can be seen sitting up.

#BreakingNews Photo of the life raft as the good Samaritan vessel approached it this morning. pic.twitter.com/Nf6ChXjCWO

— USCGPacificNorthwest (@USCGPacificNW) October 26, 2023

The Canadian Coast Guard worked with another Canadian rescue agency to get the man to shore.

The fisherman said he had been alone on the raft for 13 days and had to catch and eat a raw salmon in order to survive, one of the rescuers told KING-TV.

“We made him breakfast. He drank three bottles of water,” the rescuer said. “He was pretty hungry, poor guy.”

Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at [email protected]

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