ROCKLAND, Maine — The court has been asked to divide up a settlement between the families of two fishing crew members who were lost at sea last fall.
Paperwork was filed Tuesday in Knox County Unified Court on behalf of the estate of 27-year-old Thomas Hammond of Rockland, who was one of two crewmembers lost when the fishing vessel No Limits sank off Matinicus Island on Nov. 1 during a storm.
Also lost in the tragedy was 15-year-old Tyler Sawyer, who lived in St. George and Waldoboro.
The families reached a settlement of $360,000 with the boat owner and insurer, according to the paperwork filed in court. The boat was owned by captain Christopher Hutchinson, who survived the sinking.
Attorney R. Terrance Duddy of Portland said that the motion filed in court asks the court to determine how the settlement should be divided based on the individual circumstances of the two victims and on maritime law.
No cause for the sinking has yet been determined by the U.S. Coast Guard, which is investigating the incident.
In an interview with the Bangor Daily News a few days after the sinking, Hutchinson said he and his two crew members were on their way back from a day of hauling traps when the seas and winds quickly intensified, causing his 45-foot lobster boat to flip.
“We got hit by one large wave, and that pushed us into another. The windows to the wheelhouse blew out, and we began taking on water quickly,” Hutchinson said in the Nov. 4 interview. “I’m not 100 percent sure what happened next, but the next thing I recall is being in the wheelhouse and the boat is upside down in the water.”
Hutchinson, 26, said he managed to get out of the wheelhouse and made it to the surface, where he climbed on top of his vessel.
“I kept screaming for Tom and Tyler, but I didn’t hear or see them again,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said he never expected to survive as he was being pounded by waves of 10 feet and greater.
The boat flipped at about 11 a.m. several miles west of Matinicus, he said. The emergency position indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB, and liferaft popped out from under the vessel more than two hours later, he said. The EPIRB activated at 1:36 p.m.
When he saw the raft come to the surface, Hutchinson said, he swam the 15 to 20 feet to the raft and climbed on board.
A Coast Guard helicopter from Cape Cod arrived at about 4:30 p.m., lowered a bucket down to the raft and hauled up Hutchinson, who was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland for observation. He was released from the hospital the following morning.
After rescuing the captain, the Coast Guard and Maine Marine Patrol scoured about 130 square miles of ocean with a helicopter and two vessels over the next 17 hours but were unable to locate the two missing crew members.