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Willapa Bay: Search Continues for Fisherman Lost At Sea

The Seattle Times reports that the search for Bryson Fitch, a crew member of the Ethel May, continues more than a week after the vessel capsized near Willapa Bay on February 5th, 2023. Fitch, a crab fisherman, husband, and father of three, is the only crew member still unaccounted for.

In response, countless members of the Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor communities have mobilized to support Fitch’s family in this difficult time — and assist in the search. Volunteers have been flying drones, combing the beaches, and using their own personal vessels to search the coastline for the missing crew member.

As remnants of the now-sunk Ethel May continue to wash ashore, local police are closely monitoring the location of the debris findings in an effort to better understand how sea conditions may have affected Fitch’s location. If a pattern emerges, they hope to be able to narrow their search to a smaller area and recover the lost seaman.

The reason for the Ethel May’s capsizing is still unknown. The US Coast Guard was alerted that the vessel was in distress at approximately 7:30 PM on February 5th by the wife of one of the boat’s crew members. They also reported receiving a transmission from the Ethel May’s emergency beacon.

When the USCG arrived on-scene roughly 40 minutes later, they found a life raft manned by two crew members, one of whom is now represented by GLP Attorneys. The USCG recovered both crew members from the life raft and took them directly to Raymond hospital. The third crew member, Fitch, was nowhere to be found. The Coast Guard’s initial search for Fitch, for which it was the leading agency, lasted 15 hours and covered 290 square miles.

Commercial crabbing is widely regarded one of the most dangerous industries – maritime or otherwise. Our firm has represented crabbers injured on the job in a wide variety of matters, including injuries resulting from boat sinkings, bait choppers, pot launchers, malfunctioning power blocks, and improperly spliced lines. If you or a loved one has been injured at sea or on the water, call GLP Attorneys at 800.273.5005, or email our attorneys at to schedule your free consultation with an experienced maritime attorney.

If you have been involved in an accident, please call or email our attorneys for a free consultation