NEWPORT, OR (KPTV) - Friends and family members gathered at a vigil Wednesday night to remember three fishermen who died after their boat capsized in the Yaquina Bay Bar.

James Lacey, 48, Captain Stephen Biernacki, 50, and Joshua Porter, 50, lost their lives after their commercial fishing vessel, named after Biernacki’s mother, Mary, capsized near Newport Tuesday night.

Coast Guard officials said the Mary B II called for an escort across the bar around 10:15 p.m.

When a crew arrived, the boat had already capsized. Crews say they were dealing with 12 to 14-foot seas during the initial response.

People at the vigil Wednesday night recalled the impact the fishermen had on their lives.

Troy Hart says Porter was his best friend; he says Porter was “a beacon of light and hope” and a role model who helped him battle addition.

“I learn from him, how to deal with grief … clean and sober,” Hart said. ‘He’s a legend, everybody knows him everywhere … there’s not a single person with something bad to say about him.”

The fishermen’s boat after capsizing ran aground near the north side of the Yaquina Bay North Jetty, according to OSP.

Lacey, from South Tom River, New Jersey, was recovered from the boat and pronounced dead at a hospital. Porter, of Toledo, Oregon, was found dead near Nye Beach.

Biernacki, from Barnegat Township, New Jersey, was found with boat and was also dead.

Biernacki’s brother says Stephen was a commercial fisherman for 35 years and had survived several storms.

"His passion was putting food on the table for people," said Dennis Biernacki. "I'm just torn up inside."

Dennis Biernacki said his brother always made safety his top priority.

Their mother was up from San Diego in Oregon visiting over the holidays. She told FOX 12 that Stephen Biernacki loved his job.

"He was so happy to be out on the ocean. He loves the sea, and he told me that's where he wants to be, in the sea," Mary Anderson said. "And the other thing he said to me so many times, he said, mom, if I die at sea, don't have any remorse for me because I'm doing what I love."

A memorial fund has been established online for Porter.

The Newport Fishermen's Wives group is providing support to all three families. Donations can be made by contacting Newport Fishermen's Wives.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Recommended for you

(1) comment


This happens almost every winter, You have a group of experienced commercial fishermen that know that, and even called to CG, but didn't wait for them to arrive. Whatever they thought they were going to be late for, they surely will be now.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.