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Suquamish crab boat runs aground in San Juans; two crew members hospitalized with broken bones and hypothermia

A Suquamish crab boat ran aground on Low Island in the San Juans shortly after midnight July 8.    - Phil Green / Islands Oil Spill Association
A Suquamish crab boat ran aground on Low Island in the San Juans shortly after midnight July 8.
— image credit: Phil Green / Islands Oil Spill Association

SHAW ISLAND — A Suquamish crab boat ran aground early Friday on Low Island, near Shaw Island in the San Juans, and two crew members were airlifted to St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham for treatment of broken bones and hypothermia.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office identified the airlifted crew members as Frank Olsen, of Lummi; and a 17-year-old male from Chehalis.

The Sheriff’s Department identified the other crew members as owner/operator Henry T. Jackson, 42, of Suquamish; James F. Anderson, 29, of Suquamish; Jay Mills, 27, of Indianola; Thomas M. Jefferson, 44, of Bellingham; and Andrew J. Jefferson, age and hometown unknown.

Jackson, the skipper, could not be reached for comment.

San Juan County Sheriff Rob Nou said 9-1-1 dispatch received a first report — of a vessel sinking with people in the water — at 12:05 a.m. The sheriff’s boat Guardian was at the scene 35 minutes later; sheriff’s dispatch received several 9-1-1 calls from crew members and their relatives, Nou said.

By the time the Guardian arrived at the scene, crew members were out of the water. “Some were on the land, others were on the boat,” Nou said. He told The Journal of the San Juan Islands that deputies found “hypothermic people and injured people. At that point, it was a grab-and-run kind of thing."

All crew members were taken to Friday Harbor where they were treated by EMS personnel. With the exception of those airlifted to St. Joseph Hospital, all crew members were treated and released.

Nou described the boat as a 22-foot Reinell fiberglass boat involved in commercial tribal crabbing operations. The boat had left Friday Harbor en route to Blind Bay for the night when the grounding occurred.

The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the investigation, but local charges could be filed. Nou said alcohol is believed to have been a factor; he said emergency personnel smelled alcohol on crew members. Blood drawn in Friday Harbor is being tested; the prosecuting attorney’s office will determine whether to file charges.

Washington state Department of Ecology spokesman Larry Altose said the boat was apparently powered by an outboard motor and a five-gallon fuel tank.

The local Islands Oil Spill Association determined there was no risk of an oil spill.

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