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Three Dead in a Newport Coast Boat Accident

Posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019 at 1:57 am    

Three fishermen aboard the Mary B II died after their boat capsized off the coast of Newport, OR on Tuesday.

The victims were identified as Joshua Porter of Toledo, OR; James Lacy of South Toms River NJ; and Stephen Biernacki of Barnegat Township NJ.

Celeste Paranto, a friend of Porter’s said that the crab boat was the victim’s last voyage. She told the Oregonian that “Josh had spoken to some people on Friday that this would be his last trip on the boat and as of the 12th he had a new job lined up.”

Porter also told friends that the crew was inexperienced.  “Those were his words. It’s very sad. Because he was a responsible person he went out on the trip and never returned home. I’m really having a hard time with it,” Paranto said.

Lacy and Biernacki had just arrived in the area and purchased the boat, according to the president of Newport Fishermen’s Wives group Taunette Dixon.

A news release from the Oregon State Police said that the fishermen requested the assistance of the US Coast Guard (USCG) in crossing the Yaquina Bay after 10 PM when the accident occured. At 10:13 PM officials received word that the boat “had capsized with three people on board”.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Levi Read said that one of his crew members was already on the scene and witnessed the capsizing. 

A tweet posted by the USCG said that the respondents were “battling 12 to 14-foot seas” where reports of 16 to 20-foot waves were mentioned as well.

Lacy was the first victim to be recovered at approximately 11:20 PM. He was taken to a hospital in Newport and pronounced dead. The second victim, Porter, was located on the beach while Biernacki was found in the pilot house. Recovery of the body proved difficult due to the dangers of heavy waves.

State police said, “The Mary B II ultimately ran aground, on the beach, near the north side of the Yaquina Bay North Jetty.”

The fishing vessel Mary B II
Mary B II fishing vessel (Stephen Biernacki via Facebook)

Boat Accident Statistics

A 2015 report released by the US Coast Guard shows over 4,000 boat accidents that involved over 600 deaths and 2,613 injuries

  • 76% of victims drowned in fatal boating accidents
  • 85% of victims drowned for not wearing a life jacket
  • 71% of deaths occured due to the boat operator’s lack of safety knowledge/training
  • 15% of deaths occurred despite the operator receiving a boating safety education certificate
  • 8 out 10 accidents in which at least one person was hit by a propeller


  • Distracted boat operator
  • Operator doesn’t have enough experience or training
  • Machinery failure
  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol use

Recreational boats with the most accidents

  • Motorboats – 45%
  • Personal watercraft – 19%
  • Cabin motorboats – 17%

Recreational boats with the most deaths

  • Canoes – 11%
  • Kayaks – 12%
  • Motorboats – 46%

See the whole report here.

Crab boat Mary B II capsizes at Yaquina Bay bar
Crab boat Mary B II capsizes at Yaquina Bay bar

Accidents Involving Boats or Ships – How the Law Can Help

Laws have been passed relating to offshore accidents. One of them is the Jones Act that pertains to maritime commerce regulations. It also requires goods shipped between the United States to be transported on ships that are owned, built, and operated by US citizens.

There are a number maritime laws that can be applied to an individual’s claim when they were injured in a ship accident, rig accident or an oil rig explosion. Williams Kherkher has lawyers that understand maritime law and can help you fight your case.  Visit our firm in Houston or call us at 888-220-0640 for a free consultation.

Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident?

Contact us today at (888) 220-0640 to get a free, confidential case evaluation.