Death at the Extremes

Eric Haynes had been in the Ranger’s number three life raft for close to three hours when a bright light illuminated his raft. It was a ship. The Warrior.

The trawler drew nearer and within a minute the raft was right up against its starboard side. The Warrior was even bigger than the Ranger, the black metal hull towering almost two stories up from the water’s surface. Eric was on the far side of the raft, watching through the open door on the opposite side. The situation didn’t look good. How were they going to get Joshua—the processor whom Eric had found facedown in the water—off the raft? Never mind anybody else.

As the Warrior nudged up next to the raft, Eric watched a big hook approach them over the side of the rail. A line was attached and a couple of guys tied it to the raft.

It only took a few seconds before all hell broke loose. The length of line was too short and every time the raft sank into a trough between waves, it was yanked out of the water by the line. Eric could hear the plastic tearing with each jolt.

Also terrifying were several protruding pipes along the side of the ship, the sea side of the discard chutes from the Warrior’s factory. Normally, the chutes should be closed when the boat was transiting or at port—but for some reason they were open now. Even when the ship was tied securely at the pier, the sharp protrusions could pop the sturdy buoys that were wedged between the ships to prevent them from banging against one another at dock. They could easily do just as much damage to a life raft, Eric thought. Or to a man.

The Ranger crew inside the life raft could see how bad the situation was and began screaming up to the Warrior’s rail. “Cut us loose,” they yelled. “Cut us loose!”

Eric thought that waiting for the Coast Guard chopper was a better option than trying to board the Warrior in these conditions. One of the pipes was big and came to a point just a few feet above the water’s surface. He knew that if the raft slammed straight into the pipe, the shelter would deflate and leave ten men in the water, some of them already in a severe state of hypothermia.

Within a couple of minutes, Eric’s side of the raft came around against the hull of the ship. The Warrior’s crew had hung two Jacob’s Ladders over the rail and Eric could see that they were trying to manipulate a life sling up on deck. But the wind made it difficult for the crew on the Warrior to get the sling into a controlled position and to lower it to the men in the raft.

One of the Jacob’s Ladders kept lurching in front of Eric. One second it was close and the next it jerked ten feet up the side of the boat and landed twenty or thirty feet away. Pretty soon the ladder was in front of Eric again. He could hear the guys up on deck yelling for him to grab it. He reached out and wrapped his neoprene-covered fingers around the rope ladder just in time for it to spring up again with the boat—and slam Eric hard against the rusty hull of the ship.

Eric struggled to secure his feet in the ladder. The crew above was yelling down at him.

“Climb up! Climb up, man!”

He made it only two rungs before the Warrior lurched out of the water once again, snapping the ladder hard against the frigid metal. Eric’s hands were numb. The ladder slipped from his grip and he hit the water hard. I’m gone, he thought. Even if he avoided being crushed to death by the ship, the Warrior probably wouldn’t have been able to turn around to get him—not with another nine people off the side of the boat.

But with the next big swell, Eric was thrown back up against the ladder. He wrapped his arms around the rope and hung on with everything he had.

“Pull me up!” he screamed at the rail.

From below, he saw one of the Warrior’s crew reach over and hook a line from the ship’s small crane onto one of the ladder’s orange plastic rungs. Still, the seas kept pounding against the side of the boat. Every time the ship slapped back down into a trough, Eric felt like he was on the verge of being shaken off the ladder. He held on with all his strength as the crane slowly lifted the ladder from the side of the ship a couple of feet at a time.

Finally, Eric was pulled over the rail. The crew tried to help him to his feet, but he couldn’t stand on his own. He was lifted up and brought down to the galley, riding piggyback on one of the Warrior’s stronger crew members.

The crew helped Eric strip off his survival suit. He was surprised at how wet he was underneath. The Warrior’s female observers, Beth and Melissa, helped him into some dry clothes and wrapped him in a blanket. Eric was handed a cup of coffee, but his hands were shaking so badly, he couldn’t even lift the mug to his mouth without the hot liquid spilling everywhere.

A couple of minutes later Eric heard a commotion outside. Captain Scott had seen Eric fall in the water. He knew that the Ranger’s cook was an exceptionally strong guy; if he couldn’t get up that way, it wasn’t going to work for anybody else, either. Scott pulled the boat around to try to get the raft in the lee, to protect it from the weather as best he could. He felt like he had a crate of eggs alongside him. If he muscled the boat over too hard, he might easily capsize the raft. Soon, he had the boat at a better angle to the swells and the Ranger crewmen were being pulled up out of the raft one after the other. Each man clung to the Jacob’s Ladder as the Warrior crew used the ship’s crane to lift it to deck and then lower it down again.

“One guy is really bad off,” Eric warned the observers.

They spread some blankets on a table.

Soon, Joshua Esa was carried into the galley on the ship’s metal rescue litter. He looked blue—and just barely conscious. Eric helped Beth and Melissa strip off his suit and cover him up in blankets. The women wrapped their hot potatoes in towels and tucked them around Joshua.

Ed Cook came into the galley as more of the Ranger’s crewmen were brought down. Among them was fisheries observer Jay Vallee.

Melissa and Beth embraced Jay.

“Ha! Isn’t that wonderful! Oh my God. Get out of those wet clothes,” Ed said. “Get out of them!”

“You all right?” Ed asked Jay.

“I’m all right.”

“Here’s your observer,” Ed said to the girls.

ERIC HAYNES WAS FEELING BETTER, WARMER. He left the galley and headed up to the wheelhouse. The Ranger’s cook had known Scott Krey for a couple years. When the ships were tied up in Dutch between trips, Eric sometimes cooked for the Warrior’s crew as well. Captain Scott had a surfer-boy appearance that normally fit his laid-back personality. But now he was scanning the seas, his face tense. The captain was intently searching for someone—anyone—else his ship could help. Meanwhile, a few of the Rangercrew started crowding into the wheelhouse. “Something happened to the fucking engines and threw everything in reverse,” one of them told the Warrior’s officers. “The rafts shot way past the bow. Everybody had to fucking bail.”

“Once the water hit the generators, the power went out,” Eric broke in. He was talking fast. “Then the engines started fluttering, then for some reason it actually went in reverse. You couldn’t pull the rafts, they were so tight…. We’re going over, we’re going over, and then two of the rafts, they swung around and came right by the side of the boat.”

“I don’t know if anybody made it into the other raft,” Eric told Captain Scott. “I got to the first one. There were a lot of people in the water. We were trying to get people to swim to us.”

Everyone was scanning the waves. The captain had posted some lookouts on the wheelhouse deck and up on the bow.

Finally Scott saw something. “That looks like a raft.” He focused the Warrior’s spotlight on a yellow disk several hundred yards off in the water.

JEREMY FREITAG, THE RANGER’S STEWARD, was slouched down against the rubber wall. There were twelve of them in the raft. Jeremy felt like they were lost. They hadn’t heard anything in a long time. Gwen Rains, the female observer, was extremely upset. Jeremy didn’t know her very well; she’d been on the boat for only a few days. He felt bad for her, though. She had some type of beeper, an emergency device that she couldn’t get to work. She kept asking the guy next to her if it was broken, but he didn’t know, either. Jeremy just bowed his head and tried to block out what was happening. He’d been in the same position for a while when the side of the raft suddenly lit up and a warm, red glow flooded the compartment.

One of the guys on the other side of the raft unzipped the door to the shelter, and there she was—the Alaska Warrior, just feet away.

AIRCRAFT COMMANDER TJ SCHMITZ was concerned that he’d overcommitted himself—and his crew. If the Munro didn’t make up some significant distance, they’d have just minutes to spare before the helicopter ran out of fuel and crashed in the ocean. The last thing Schmitz wanted to do was to ditch in the Bering. In the dark. With five survivors on board.

Normally, an air crew would want 400 pounds of fuel remaining when they landed on a cutter in the middle of the ocean. Maybe 300 would cut it. The absolute minimum—for landing at an airport, in good weather—was 200 pounds of fuel still on board. That was twenty minutes of flying time. At this point, they’d be lucky if they landed with 150 pounds, and there were so many variables between here and there: the weather, the sea state, how quickly the Munro could break free of the 60 and get turned around and back on course. It was impossible to predict what could happen with a ship. It could lose radio communications or steering. It could get turned into a big snow squall. On the other hand, an airport runway would always be there.

As they left the rescue scene, Schmitz transferred the controls over to Greg Gedemer. The younger pilot would fly the helo while Schmitz kept an eye on all the gauges. Schmitz decided to slow back. Returning to the Munro at a lower speed would decrease the aircraft’s burn rate. It would also give the cutter more time to make up the distance between them.

Shortly after 8:00 A.M. Schmitz spotted the Munro in the distance. He and Gedemer were still flying with their night vision goggles on, struggling to see as they passed in and out of snow squalls. At first, the ship was just a dot in the green haze of the NVGs.

“Okay, there it is! There it is!” Schmitz announced.

A moment later, a snow squall moved through. The pilot got a sinking feeling.

“Oh, man, we’re farther away than I thought.”

When they were about five miles out Schmitz called, “Tallyho!”

A few seconds later, Schmitz, Gedemer, and Musgrave all heard the reply: “Tallyho!”

Schmitz looked into the distance and watched as the Munro slowed and then turned into the seas.

From the bridge to Combat to the open hangar of the flight deck, the atmosphere on the ship was tense. Much of the crew had heard the exchange between the 65 pilots and Combat; they knew that the small helo was dangerously close to “splash.” As the 65 approached the Munro’s stern, Schmitz took back the controls from Gedemer. It was a straight shot in.

Schmitz might have only one chance to approach the ship and get the aircraft safely down on the flight deck. There’d be no room for error.

He could overhear the orders urging the tie-down crew back out on deck to await the helicopter. Then SAR Operations Specialist Erin Lopez’s voice came over the helicopter’s radio:

“Rescue 6566, you’re out of limits, but you’re clear to land,” she said.

Schmitz approached the side of the ship.

Slowly, steadily, he slid the red capsule over the flight deck and planted it right down onto the talon grid. He deployed the talon hook to the honeycombed surface, and the squad of four blue-suited tie-downs scurried out to secure the helicopter to the deck.

Schmitz was out of the helo even before the rotors stopped spinning. He handed control of the shutdown to Gedemer and headed straight to Combat. The dark room smelled like stale coffee. Crowded around a glowing computer bank were Erin Lopez, Chief Luke Cutburth, and Ops Boss Jimmy Terrell. Soon Captain Lloyd came down from the bridge.

“Hell of a job, Lopez!” Schmitz said to the OS.

“You too,” Lopez replied. “Thanks for not dying!”

“You scared the shit out of me,” Schmitz said. “I think I’ll have to check my drawers.”

The SAR officer laughed. “Me, too.”

“Has anyone heard from Abe yet?” Schmitz asked the assembled crew. They hadn’t. Schmitz was concerned. He knew the Hercules C-130 was out over the rescue scene and his rescue swimmer, Abe Heller, should be able to communicate with the plane from his handheld radio. The Herc crew could then pass on the message to the Munro’s Combat room.

Erin Lopez had passed on the location of the Coast Guard life raft to the Jayhawk. The larger aircraft, she told Schmitz, was on its way to the coordinates that the 65 had recorded.

“Got a minute, Captain?” Schmitz asked Craig Lloyd. The two men moved over to a back corner.

“We lost one of the survivors,” the pilot told the captain. “One guy fell out of the basket, from near the rail.”

The captain was silent for a couple moments. He looked at Schmitz. “Okay,” he said. “You did the best you could. You had to keep going.”

Abe Heller was the only rescue swimmer deployed on the Munro, but Schmitz wanted to go back out, even without a swimmer. The Munro’s crew would be refueling the helo right now.

“Do you need anything?” the captain asked.

“We’re good,” Schmitz said. “We’re ready.”

Up on deck, the crew decided to use the already-set-up HIFR rig to refuel the aircraft. It was an unconventional move but would save time. Each time an aircraft fueled from the ship, two crew members were assigned to check the quality of the fuel. They had to test it for contamination both before and after each refueling to be sure it met “clear and bright” standards. Those two crew members were dressed in purple, rather than the standard blue coveralls worn by the tie-downs. During the entire refueling operation, oneMunro fireman, dressed in a full-body flame-retardant suit, would remain on deck holding a fire extinguisher. The bulky suit is made of a crinkly silver material that from a distance resembles tin foil. Some of the ship’s officers referred to the trio as “two grapes and a baked potato.”

Schmitz headed back out to the flight deck. They’d take off again as soon as they had a full tank. The aircraft commander knew that without a swimmer, it would be near impossible to recover anyone who was severely hypothermic. But he figured that if his crew got back to the scene soon enough, they could recover Heller and keep going. And even if they couldn’t recover Heller, they could still lower the basket. A lucid survivor might be able to climb in on his own. More likely, though, they’d just be marking locations, helping to find people in the water and waiting for someone else to come to pull them out.

SEVENTY MILES TO THE SOUTHEAST, the Jacob’s Ladders were still hung over the side of the Alaska Warrior. In the moments after Steward Jeremy Freitag’s life raft reached the ship, a couple of guys had flung themselves at one of the ladders and managed to scramble up.

The recovery process had been improved since the first raft was recovered about forty minutes earlier. The Warrior’s deck crew sent down a line on a hook, and the raft was tied off to the ship. Then they pulled up the hook and lowered it again, this time with the ship’s life sling attached.

The life-saving device looked like a noose, made of wire coated with plastic. The ship carried it in case of a man overboard accident. In theory, a person in the water would pull the loop down over his upper body and hang his arms over the coated wire. When he was raised, the noose would pull tight, preventing him from falling through.

From inside the raft, Gwen Rains had watched the couple of men struggle up the ladder at the side of the boat. She felt like her range of motion was extremely limited. With her suit on, there was no way she’d be able to do what the men had done, to grab onto the Jacob’s Ladder and pull herself up by brute strength.

Gwen heard one of the Japanese technicians yelling at her from the other side of the raft. She crawled over to him. The Japanese man had the life sling in his hands. He motioned for Gwen to raise her arms.

Gwen would be the first one in her raft to be pulled up in the sling.

Please don’t drop me, she thought, as she flew up over the rail and landed smoothly on deck. She knew she was almost safe—almost home.

After seeing how efficient the life sling was, no one wanted to throw themselves at the side of a moving ship and potentially end up submerged in the water again.

Jeremy watched the people in his raft being pulled up, one after the other. It was quick. He was the second to last to go.

The life sling felt sturdy around him. He positioned himself right by the door. And then, up he went. He was flying. He felt great; it was almost fun. In seconds, Jeremy had two feet planted on the deck of the Warrior. It was the happiest moment of his life.

WARRIOR CHIEF ENGINEER ED COOK had been running back and forth between the wheelhouse and the deck of the ship as the Ranger crewmen were pulled up one after the other. He kept hoping to see his brother emerge from one of the rafts. But Dan Cook wasn’t in either one.

Ed went into the galley to check on the rescued fishermen.

“Hey, Chief, you made it!” one of the Ranger’s crew yelled when he saw the Warrior’s engineer walk in.

“No, man, that’s the short one,” someone corrected before Ed could say anything.

Ed was nervous. Then again this was less than half of the crew. There was still another raft, wasn’t there? And the Coast Guard had been out there for hours now. Maybe his brother was with the Coasties. Possibly he was even one of the guys stuffed inside that first helicopter, the one that had been hovering over their ship a couple hours earlier. Danny might be warming up on the Coast Guard cutter right at this moment.

Ed watched as the fisheries observers, Beth and Melissa, worked on the Ranger fishermen. They were taking off their suits and clothes. Those two girls were like angels of mercy, Ed thought. They were drying the guys off and massaging them to try to get the blood flowing again. Just talking to them, trying to help them feel better—adding some calm to the chaos.

Beth stood over one of the rescued men. She had beautiful long hair that fell in auburn waves down toward the man’s chest. He was naked on the tabletop and in good enough shape to still be thinking like a guy who’s been on a ship for a few months.

“Hey, aren’t you supposed to—” he started.

She looked down at him. “What? Make your dreams come true?” Beth smiled. “I’m not gonna do it!”

Everyone laughed. Most of the guys knew that when a man falls overboard, the recommended treatment when he is pulled up is to strip him down and for someone else to get naked too, and lay against him, maybe inside a sleeping bag or under a pile of blankets. Body heat is said to rewarm more efficiently than anything else. Naturally, having a woman in the equation made the whole process seem a lot more appealing.

Up in the wheelhouse, Captain Scott Krey kept scanning the waves. The Warrior had saved twenty-two people out of the two rafts, including both of the Ranger’s government observers. Between the two helicopters, the Coasties had reportedly rescued another eighteen guys. That left seven men still unaccounted for. Most of the Ranger’s crew had abandoned ship around 4:15 A.M. It was now after 8:00 A.M. Everyone else out there had been in the water for a long time—and would almost certainly be in worse shape than any of those rescued so far.

BACK INSIDE THE DOLPHIN HELICOPTER’S six-man life raft, rescue swimmer Abe Heller was focusing on keeping his survivors awake. The three men he’d gotten into the small raft had most likely been in the water for more than three hours. The last man—Samasoni Fa’aulu, a big Samoan guy everyone called Sam—had been particularly difficult to get into the shelter. He was weak from cold, just dead weight in the water. It took Heller almost ten minutes to push him up and into the life raft. Processor Julio Morales and Assistant Cook Mark Hagerman were already inside, trying to help haul up Sam. Heller went under and tried pushing up on the bulk of the man’s survival suit with the top of his head. Finally, the three of them wrestled the Samoan into the raft.

After the 65 Dolphin flew away, Heller had pulled out his EPIRB. He turned it on and attached it to a Velcro patch on the top of his helmet. He could hear the Herc above him and glimpsed the plane now and then through the snow squalls.

In the distance, Heller could see the light of a ship. He hopped back out into the water and pulled out his radio. From his seated position inside the raft, it was difficult to access his gear. And though the craft was designed for six, it was crowded with just four.

Alaska Warrior. I’m a Coast Guard rescue swimmer,” Heller said into his waterproof VHF. “I’m in a raft with three hypothermic survivors.”

The reply was broken, but Heller got the gist. The ship was busy hauling people out of the Ranger’s life rafts.

They’d get there when they could. It might not be soon.

Heller climbed back inside the shelter. The basket-shaped raft wasn’t inflated that well, and some water had accumulated on its floor. It seemed sturdy enough, though. The biggest challenge was keeping the fishermen from drifting off to sleep. Sam was in the worst shape.

Julio was also trying to talk to Sam and keep him alert. The two men had been together at the Grand Aleutian hotel before boarding the Ranger for the first time just three weeks before. They’d been sleeping in the same bunk room since then, eating meals together.

For a while, Heller made an effort to get the fishermen talking, to keep their spirits up. He offered the men a candy bar he had stuck in a pocket of his dry suit and tried to give them some good news: “I know another helicopter got a lot of you guys. A bunch of people are okay on the Coast Guard ship.”

But the men responded to most of Heller’s questions with one-word answers. Every once in a while he shone his flashlight into Sam’s face; he had to do something to keep the guy awake. The fishermen didn’t want to talk, and Heller wasn’t really in the mood for chatting, either. He was exhausted and also feeling a little sick. He’d been slapped around by the waves in the course of the rescue and had swallowed a lot of seawater.

Still, the fishermen were obviously in much rougher shape. Man, I never want to be on a sinking boat, Heller thought to himself. The swimmer was concerned about preserving the battery power on his handheld radio. He could still hear the C-130 overhead. He knew his helo crew would have taken his position when they left the scene. What was the point of getting out the radio again? He’d just be telling those guys what they already knew—that he was here with some fishermen, and that they needed to be rescued.

The sky was just beginning to brighten when Heller heard the rotors.

He thought again about pulling out his radio. I can’t tell them anything they’re not going to figure out by looking at us, he told himself. He jumped back into the water and told Julio and Mark to help him pull Sam back into the ocean. By the time the 60 Jayhawk was overhead, Heller had swum with Sam away from the raft. As soon as the helo was in a hover, Heller gave his fellow Coasties the thumbs-up.

They were ready for pickup.

DAYLIGHT WAS BREAKING, AND THE SEAS began to calm. From the Warrior’s wheelhouse, Captain Scott spotted something in the water. A splotch of red in the waves—a survival suit. As the ship got closer, Scott could tell there was someone inside. The captain aimed for the suit and slowed his speed as the ship drew near.

Ed Cook went down to the rail. It was a man in the water, all right, floating on his back. His face seemed to be several inches beneath the surface. The man’s eyes were open. His mouth, too.

It was Pete Jacobsen. Captain Pete.

Ed knew the captain was a longtimer with the Fishing Company of Alaska. He was close to retirement age now, maybe sixty-five years old. Ed had never heard anyone have a harsh word for the man. Jesus, he thought. Pete, man, just hold on.

It took a dozen men, Ed among them, to pull the Ranger’s captain on board the Warrior. As the body came up alongside the ship, the men threw a grappling hook to draw it closer to the hull. Even from the wheelhouse, Scott could tell that Pete’s survival suit was full of water. The captain was a tiny man, but even with a bunch of guys hauling, they couldn’t get him up. It was taking forever. Finally, Ed grabbed a knife and slit the legs of Pete’s suit. The water poured out. They got him on board, and then the captain was carried to the Warrior’s galley.

Eric Haynes heard a commotion outside. People were arguing about whether to bring the man just recovered from the water down to the factory or into the galley. The crew was getting upset.

“Bring him in here,” Eric ordered. “Bring him into the galley.”

The crew did as Eric said and laid the Ranger’s captain out on a galley table in his mutilated survival suit.

Eric turned Pete’s head.

He was gone. There was no doubt in Eric’s mind. He could tell by Pete’s eyes: They were blank, with no clarity. His suit looked way too big. The captain was sopping wet.

They’d move the body down to the factory. It was too upsetting to see Captain Pete there in the galley, where some of the fishermen were still struggling to warm up.

As Pete Jacobsen was being carried downstairs, Ed heard someone yell that there was another person off the starboard bow.

The Warrior’s chief engineer approached the bow rail. About thirty yards off the starboard, Ed saw the body.

“God man, this is a big guy,” he said under his breath. “God. Man.”

Ed was breathing hard. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to see what was coming. He left the deck and climbed up to the wheelhouse as the man was pulled aboard. After a few minutes he got up his courage and headed back downstairs to the galley.

He got there just as the men were carrying the large body inside.

“Don’t look, Chief. It’s your brother,” a crewman said.

Ed walked toward the body.

“I have to look,” he told his crewmates.

The man was still in a jumbo-size survival suit. The crew were holding him like pallbearers. Ed moved toward them and pulled back the flap over the man’s face. He looked like he was just asleep, like maybe you could shake him and wake him up.

“Yeah,” Ed said, as a dozen of the crew stood around the body. Ed’s eyes grew wet. His voice cracked as he said aloud what everyone already knew: “That’s my brother. That’s my little brother Danny.”

QUICKLY, THE CREW MADE A DECISION: They’d bring Dan Cook down to the factory, too. The Ranger’s engineer was six foot two and close to 280 pounds. In the suit, he was too big to get down through the stairwell. They strapped him to the litter that they kept on board in case a crew member had to be medevaced off the ship. Then they opened a hatch, lowered Dan Cook through it, and laid him on the metal packing table in the factory, near Captain Pete.

Eric had climbed over Pete and turned him over to try to get some of the water out. He told the men to cut off their officers’ clothes, and sent people for knives and blankets. Eric noticed a sizable wound on Pete’s arm, and sent a crewman to find some first aid materials to wrap it up. There was no blood, just exposed muscle. Eric worried that if Pete’s body warmed up, the cut might start bleeding. Better to take care of it now.

Within a few minutes, the crew had the two lifeless men out of their clothes and wrapped in blankets. They started massaging their limbs, trying to warm them up. Eric ran up to the wheelhouse, looking for a portable defibrillator.

There wasn’t one.

“Should we try CPR?” Eric asked Captain Scott.

The two men decided it was worth a try.

Eric rushed to recruit a group of people to work on the lifeless men. There was some reluctance—it seemed pretty clear to everyone that the officers were dead.

“We have to do this!” Eric told the crew.

Observer Beth Dubofsky began CPR on Captain Pete. It seemed like she was one of the only people on board who had recent CPR certification. She didn’t have a mouth guard and the captain looked far gone. His arm was broken and Beth could see some bone sticking out. There were no signs of life, but Beth kept at it.

Meanwhile, Eric was repeating compressions into Dan’s chest when a third body was carried into the factory. There was vomit on the man’s face. His brown eyes were glazed over. Like with the other fishermen, the crew removed his clothes and wrapped him in blankets. David Hull recognized the man. It was one of the new guys, Byron Carrillo.

David wiped away the vomit and began CPR on Byron. Only a couple days earlier, David had noticed that the greenhorn, while a hard worker, was having trouble distinguishing between different types of fish on the processing table. David had pulled Byron aside and offered him some pointers. Later, Byron put his arm around David up in the galley. “This guy is my teacher,” he had said. Jesus, David thought, that was only twelve hours ago. Now he was standing over Byron, pushing water out of the poor guy’s body.

“Pump down on his chest. Hard! Fifteen times—and don’t worry if you feel a rib pop or crack,” Eric instructed David. Beth was standing nearby. The current recommendation was thirty compressions, the fisheries observer told them.

The men decided to go with Beth’s number. David did thirty reps, then mouth to mouth. Eric was doing the same on Dan Cook, with a Warrior crewman doing the breathing. Over and over. They just kept working.

The men were telling him to stop, but David Hull didn’t want to give up on Byron. It just didn’t seem fair that he would be the one who didn’t make it. For Christ’s sake, he’d only been in Alaska for one damn week.

David had been at it for probably fifteen minutes when the Warrior’s first mate, Ray Falante, ordered him to stop. There was no hope, Ray told David.

Byron was dead.

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