by Ethan Stewart
Tragedy struck about a mile off Santa Cruz Island last week when a local commercial fishing boat sank, killing two of the three men onboard. Shortly after 8 p.m. Monday night, the Five G’s vessel was drift netting for sea bass near Lady’s Harbor when it violently rolled over, sending its three passengers — Captain Clifton Kent, Mike Caligiuri, and Joseph Breck — overboard and sinking the 35-foot boat in a matter of minutes. Though the U.S. Coast Guard’s investigation is ongoing, a spokesperson reported that, contrary to initial reports, it is “not likely that nets catching or undercurrents played a role” in the incident. In the ensuing chaos, the three men — battling 60-degree water, dense fog, and 3-foot wind slop — used buoys and various floating objects to help them swim toward shore. Along the way, the powerful currents and body-numbing, disorienting effects of hypothermia eventually overtook Caligiuri, 48, and Breck, 45. After swimming approximately two hours, Kent made it to shore, where he spent the night huddled on rocks before being rescued early Tuesday morning by a Ventura-based dive boat. The accident brings the death toll of fishermen in our local waters to 14 during the past two decades.