Man found dead aboard New Bedford-based fishing boat

Police at the New Bedford State Pier Saturday afternoon, where a crewman aboard a fishing boat died of an apparent overdose. (WPRI/Corey Welch)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) – Police are investigating after a member of a fishing boat crew died while the boat was at sea Saturday.

According to New Bedford police detectives, a man aboard the FV Dinah Jane died Saturday while the boat was underway. Coast Guard units escorted the boat back to the State Pier and the Medical Examiner’s office took custody of the body.

The Coast Guard told Eyewitness News the boat was off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard when crews called for help for an unresponsive crewman around 7 a.m. The crew performed CPR for 45 minutes while the boat made its way to shore, but the crew member died.

Police said it appears that the man, whose name has not yet been released, died of a drug overdose.

The New Bedford police, Massachusetts State Police and the Coast Guard are continuing to investigate the death.

The Dinah Jane belongs to Carlos Rafael’s fishing fleet; federal agents raided the fishing magnate’s business Friday morning and charged him with lying to federal authorities for years about the quantity and species of fish his boats caught in order to evade federal quotas.

Rafael’s bookkeeper was also charged.

Eyewitness News has learned that Saturday’s incident wasn’t the first time someone has died on board one of Rafael’s boats. In 2006, a worker died from carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to clean a poorly ventilated water tank.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company nearly $50,000 for that incident.

Annie Shalvey contributed to this report. 

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