Geoduck harvesting fatal for Port Angeles diver

A Port Angeles diver died Wednesday morning after his air umbilical cord apparently became entangled while he was geoduck harvesting east of town, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said.

Anthony Gockerell, 35, was pronounced dead at 9:46 a.m. at Olympic Medical Center (OMC) in Port Angeles after unsuccessful attempts to revive him, according to a press release received at 5:27 p.m. Wednesday.

Peninsula Communications received a 9-1-1 call about a commercial diver in distress at about 8:30 a.m., said Sgt. John Keegan in the press release.

Crew members said Gockerell signaled to his crew that his surface-supplied air umbilical cord was “unable to clear.” The crew interpreted that as Gockerell’s umbilical cord was entangled in debris, Keegan said.

Gockerell’s crewmates and officers with the state Department of Natural Resources, who were on scene to supervise the geoduck harvesting, struggled to pull Gockerell loose.

After about two minutes, Gockerell was freed and brought aboard the 32-foot aluminum commercial fishing boat, Keegan said.

CPR was performed as the boat took Gockerell from the Dungeness West geoduck tract, which is about 6.5 miles east of the Coast Guard Station on Ediz Hook, to the Port Angeles Marina. CPR was continued by Port Angeles Fire Department personnel while en route as well as at Olympic Medical Center until Gockerell was pronounced dead.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

The Clallam County Coroner’s Office plans an autopsy.

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