PORTLAND, Ore. – Witnesses at a hearing into a fatal ship sinking said the captain appeared impaired, and toxicology tests proved that to be true.
Stephen Biernacki, 50, and crew members James Lacey, 48, of South Toms River, and Joshua Porter, 50, of Toledo, Oregon, all died Jan. 8 after their 42-foot crabbing boat sank near Newport, Oregon.
Toxicology tests revealed that Biernacki had methamphetamine and alcohol in his system. Lacey was found to have cannabis in his system, and nothing showed up in Porter’s tests. The test results came from a U.S. Coast Guard hearing, being reported by the Associated Press.
Local residents who had spoken to Biernacki before he went out had said during the hearing that he seemed impaired, and that he did not appear to heed how dangerous the patch of water is.
The Coast Guard said Mary B II faced waves of 14 to 16 feet, with some breakers as tall as 20 feet as it tried to enter the safety of Yaquina Bay.