Man found dead inside fishing boat that hit rocks near Point Reyes

The man was found dead by authorities in the cabin of his sinking boat.|

A Half Moon Bay man was found dead after his fishing boat crashed into rocks Thursday afternoon near Point Reyes, officials said.

The Coast Guard sent a rescue swimmer to the wrecked boat, The Westerly. The swimmer could see someone inside but could not get into the cabin. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office sent rescue helicopter Henry 1 to the boat near Chimney Rock, and a paramedic and tactical flight officer descended by rope onto the boat as waves battered it and it was listing on its side.

The damaged boat then began to sink.

The helicopter rescue crew broke into the boat’s cabin where they found the man dead. He was later identified as Matthew Paul, 49.

The crew extracted Paul’s body and it was airlifted to the Marin County Coroner’s Office, which continues to investigate his cause of death.

Paul crabbed along the California coast for decades, according to a 2023 story in which he was interviewed by KTVU-TV. He was among the many commercial fishermen hit with financial losses as the Dungeness crab season was delayed or shortened to protect migrating whales. On Thursday, the California Fish and Wildlife Department announced the season will again close early, on April 8.

**Henry-1 Chimney Rock Boat Recovery** Today at around 4:30 PM, Henry-1 was requested by the Marin County Fire Department for a boat that had crashed into the rocky shoreline near Chimney Rock (Pt. Reyes). A rescue swimmer from the United States Coast Guard was deployed to the boat and could see what appeared to be a subject inside the cabin. The condition of the subject was unknown. They were unable to gain access to the cabin without breaching equipment. The Henry-1 crew retrieved a Sheriff’s Office Paramedic, who also works full time as a Marin County Fire Department Paramedic. The helicopter was configured for a 100-foot Long Line rescue. The Tactical Flight Officer and Paramedic were inserted onto the boat with breaching tools. The boat, which was resting on rocks, was being battered by the incoming waves causing it to list to the side. The boat had sustained damage and was taking on water. Once on the boat, the Henry-1 crew gained access to the subject inside the cabin. They determined the subject was deceased. After a lengthy extrication, the subject was placed into a rescue device and flown to nearby Fire Personnel. The subject was turned over to the Marin County Coroner’s Office who will be investigating the death. The subject’s identity is being withheld pending the notification of their next of kin. We would like to send our condolences to the subject’s family during this difficult time.

Posted by Sonoma Sheriff on Thursday, March 28, 2024

A Point Reyes ranger patrolling for crab pots within the Marine Protected Area first saw the grounded boat, according to Sarah Herve, public information officer for Point Reyes National Seashore. The ranger alerted authorities and multiple agencies coordinated their response.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Coast Guard, Marin County Fire Department, California Highway Patrol, Yosemite Search and Rescue and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration collaborated to extricate Paul.

The cause of the wreck is still under investigation.

This spot is popular with commercial crabbers. The rocky peninsula is particularly hazardous and has seen fatalities, though none in recent years.

The Westerly wrecked in a protected elephant seal breeding area. There have been no reports of harm or impact to the seals.

Agencies will remove the still intact boat as soon as possible given the hazardous location and weather conditions.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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