Fishing Vessel Sinks off Southern Coast of New Jersey

The Lady Mary, a 71-foot scallop boat based at Cape May in southern New Jersey, sank at approximately 5:00 AM on Tuesday, March 24, 2009. There were seven people aboard the fishing boat about 75 miles off the coast. The accident is expected to rank among the worst commercial fishing disasters in the history of the United States.

By Tuesday night, only one survivor had been found. Two of the three crew members were pulled from the icy water by a Coast Guard helicopter, but both later died.

More than 100 commercial fishermen have died at sea off the New Jersey coast, since reliable records started being kept in1931.

One of the worst accidents happened in 2001 when the Artic Rose sunk in the Bering Sea, which killed 15 people. The Aleutian Enterprise also sank in the same location in 1990, killing nine people.

All seven crew members in the recent accident off the New Jersey coast were wearing cold-water survival suits, according to the Coast Guard. However, a national search and rescue expert said that chances are not good for survival in 40-degree water.

The survivor, Jose Luis Ariese, told authorities that the members had lifesaving suits and abandoned ship, although he didn’t give a specific reason as to why they left the boat. Ariese had spent at least two hours in the icy water and was treated and released from the hospital.