Purse seiner captain falls to his death — no foul play discovered
After a thorough investigation into the unexpected death of a fishing vessel captain last month, local police have recommended to close the case, after they determined no criminal act was involved, and the incident was nothing more than an unfortunate accident.
The deceased, a 62-year-old man, was a US citizen and captain of the US flagged purse seiner, Cape Farret.
Reports say the incident occurred around 9 p.m. Saturday, October 28th, 2017 behind the Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) facility in Atu’u.
The man is believed to have fallen into the ocean and sustained injuries to his head.
Witnesses told police the victim was allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
It was revealed that on the night of the incident, after dinner and drinks with his colleagues, the victim was dropped off at the STP facility.
He was reportedly intoxicated and was swaying while walking — staggering most of the time — while making his way behind the dock where the fishing vessel was moored.
Police questioned several STP employees who were working at the time of the incident. One of them, a forklift driver, told police he was stacking empty fish steel bins when he saw the victim walking past him and on to the vessel. The victim appeared drunk because he was not walking straight but instead, swaying and staggering. As the victim stepped on to the boat, he slipped and fell over — head first — into the ocean, between the vessel and the port. The witness told police he ran over to help but the victim was nowhere to be seen, he was already underwater.
The witness said he ran in to the vessel to inform the crew members about what happened, and he also contacted his supervisor and alerted the port security guard to contact the authorities about the incident.
Two crew members dove into the ocean in an attempt to search for the victim whose body was found a few moments later. A rope was used to tie the victim’s waist so they could hoist him up on to the dock.
According to what the witness told police, the victim was underwater for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Other witnesses who were interviewed told a similar story to police about what happened before and during the incident.
Police were able to obtain a copy of surveillance footage from the STP/ IT department, which provided corroborating proof that no criminal act was involved and the incident was an unfortunate accident.
The victim's body was transported to the LBJ Hospital around 10:25 p.m that same night, and he was pronounced dead at 10:41 p.m
According to the report, the victim sustained a deep scalp laceration on the right side of his forehead. The exact cause of death it undetermined at this time, as an autopsy will be conducted to determine whether the victim died from drowning or blunt force trauma to the head.
Samoa News understands that members of the victim’s family arrived in the territory from the US last week, to take his body home.