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Five Rescued, Four Dead in Boat Accident

September 17, 1988

NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) _ Coast Guard helicopters plucked five people from the Pacific Ocean on Friday and recovered the bodies of four others about 18 hours after their charter fishing boat sank in calm seas.

Helicopter crews spotted the victims and debris from the boat about 35 miles from the coast, the Coast Guard said.

The survivors were taken to Pacific Community Hospital in Newport, about 116 miles southwest of Portland on the Pacific Coast. Three of the survivors were admitted in serious condition suffering from hypothermia.

The boat’s engine room had apparently flooded, but the crew didn’t notice until the vessel already had begun to sink, said Seaman Veronica Cady at the Coast Guard public affairs office in Seattle.

The survivors told doctors that after the boat sank they clustered around a small liferaft, said Dr. Esther Sewell. Some were in the raft, some hung onto the side and some clung to a bulkhead that became detached from the boat as it sank, she said.

One of the survivors, Clyde Sloan, 41, of nearby Philomath, spent the entire 18 hours in the water, his relatives said.

″He thought he was going to die,″ said his son, Rocky Sloan. ″My dad’s friend died in his arms.″

Rocky Sloan said his father told him all nine tied themselves together and took turns in the life raft. When a woman in the raft died, they tied her to the bulkhead and someone else took her place in the raft, he said.

The last person to die was in the raft, Sewell said, but hypothermia apparently had made him disoriented.

″He saw the helicopter and he got out of the raft and started swimming for it. He started taking off his life jacket,″ Sewell said.

Five helicopters, two planes and the Coast Guard cutter Iris participated in the search, which began Thursday night when the 45-foot Cougar, a former Navy launch, was reported overdue at Depoe Bay.

The boat, owned by Depoe Bay Sports Fishing & Charter, had been hired for a day of tuna fishing.

After the boat was reported late, the Coast Guard sent a helicopter and jet to search for distress flares and radio signals up to 100 miles offshore for three hours Thursday night, said Coast Guard Capt. Michael Lovett. The search resumed after dawn Friday, and the survivors were found three hours later.

The boat was equipped with citizens band and marine radios, but no distress calls had been monitored on any frequencies, said Lovett.

Lowell Schlesser, owner of the charter company, said the crew had included two experienced skippers. It was not immediately known whether the skippers had survived.