Fisheries student texted father in Ilwaco that he had gone out in place of a crewman who hadn't shown up.
On Wednesday morning, Luke Jensen texted his father from 10 miles out at sea, west of Long Beach, Pacific County. Jensen, 22, had landed a last-minute job on the crew of the Lady Cecelia, a 70-foot fishing trawler based in Warrenton, Ore.
“Hopefully I’ll make an impression and can stay on,” he wrote to his father, David Jensen.
The Lady Cecelia, with four people aboard, sent a distress signal at 3:37 a.m. Saturday. A Coast Guard search found debris, an oil sheen and an empty life raft, fully inflated, but no sign of the men. The search was suspended Sunday, with the men presumed dead.
“I think I’ve gotten to the point that I know I’ll never get over it, and I don’t want to,” David Jensen said Monday. “But I’ll learn to live with it.”
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There had not even been time for the crew to get off a distress call. That job was done by a device mounted on the roof of the boat’s cabin that sends out a signal if it comes into contact with water. A Coast Guard helicopter found the slick and the life raft less than two hours later.
The sinking is under investigation. Also missing are skipper Dave Nichols, 42, and deckhand Jason Bjaranson, 38, both of Warrenton, Ore., and NOAA Fisheries Service observer Chris Langel, 25, of Kaukauna, Wis.
Luke Jensen had “always been nuts about fishing,” his father said. The family moved to Ilwaco, Pacific County, while Luke was a child, and he crewed on charter boats while still at Ilwaco High School, where he graduated in 2007.
He fished on a small family fishing boat, then spent the past several summers aboard a gill-netter out of Alaska’s Bristol Bay while a student at Humboldt State University in California, where he was majoring in freshwater fisheries. When home, he frequented a spot on Willapa Bay’s Bear River, fishing catch-and-release for hours by himself.
He had taken a break from his studies and moved to Warrenton, a fishing port just across the Columbia River from Ilwaco. “His thing was the ocean,” said David Jensen, an architect in Ilwaco.
In his last text message to his father, Jensen said he landed the crew job on the Lady Cecelia because another crew member didn’t show up. He said those aboard planned to be back Tuesday.
Information from The Associated Press
is included in this report.