A fisherman went missing from his boat at Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, this past Sunday, February 12. At approximately 2:30 that afternoon, a Swinomish Tribal Fisheries patrol crew noticed a 32-foot fishing boat motoring in circles with no one aboard. Reportedly, witnesses had noticed one man onboard at around 12:30 that same day. The boat is registered as a Swinomish tribal boat.
Coast Guard helicopter crew searched during the daylight hours on Sunday and Monday morning, while Coast Guard boat crews searched through the night. Whidbey Island rescue teams joined the search effort, and Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office divers explored the water near the fishing boat and crab pots. A Coast Guard cutter had joined the search by Monday morning. The search was suspended at 10:45 a.m. on Monday, after 21 hours.
On Wednesday, Swinomish Fisheries and the Swinomish police used the GPS from the crab boat to trace its path to recover the body of Joseph Thomas Sias of La Conner. The coroner reports that Mr. Sias drowned after he fell overboard, when his heavy clothing and boots possibly became waterlogged. Mr. Sias was 51, and a member of the Swinomish Tribe who will be missed by his family and community