The lobsterman who died Saturday after falling off a lobster boat about 2 miles off Jonesport has been identified as Jon Popham, 28.
The Coast Guard confirmed his name on Monday but gave few new details of why and how he fell overboard, saying the investigation into his death is continuing. Popham’s hometown was not immediately available.
Friends quickly began raising money for his wife, Melinda, and their 2-year-old son, Isaias. An online fund quickly raised more than $8,000, and area residents went on social media to share their grief and honor Popham’s memory.
Fishermen’s groups said the accident is a reminder that fishing is one of the most dangerous ways to make a living.
“Most years, based on deaths and accidents, it’s rated as the most dangerous job you can do,” said J.J. Bartlett, president of Fishing Partnership Support Services, a Massachusetts-based fishing safety group. “And in the Northeast, the numbers show it’s even more dangerous. Partly because of the temperatures, partly because of the large numbers of fishermen we have going out everyday.”
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 545 commercial fishermen died while fishing between 2000 and 2010, or 124 out of every 100,000 workers. The average death rate among all other workers on the job for the same period was four per 100,000 workers, according to the agency.
The Coast Guard station in Jonesport got a call around 1:50 p.m. Saturday, reporting that a crew member of the lobster boat Melinda Ann had fallen overboard. The man had been pulled back in by other crew members, and was unresponsive. Crew members tried to administer CPR to Popham, according to Coast Guard reports.
A Coast Guard rescue boat, already in the water, was dispatched to the lobster boat. The Coast Guard boat took Popham on board, and crew members continued to administer CPR. After being brought ashore, Popham was eventually pronounced dead.
Lt. David Bourbeau, a public affairs officer with the Coast Guard, said he did not have information about how or why Popham fell overboard or what he was doing at the time. The lobster boat was about 2 miles offshore from the mouth of Chandler Bay, on the east side of Jonesport, when the call for help came in, Bourbeau said. He said the incident is under investigation by the Coast Guard.
Soon after hearing of Popham’s death, friends began organizing fundraising efforts to help provide for his wife and son. A campaign set up on GoFundMe.com had raised $8,095 as of Monday night, with donations from 128 people.
“Those who knew him know that his family was his world,” Jess Harvey, who started the fund, wrote on the website.
The Maine Lobstermen’s Association, of which Popham was a member, also posted on its Facebook page that money for Popham’s family could be donated to a fund at the Machias Christian Fellowship, 3 Davis Lane, Machias, 04654. Donations can be sent in care of Melinda Popham.
“It’s horribly sad whenever you hear about something like this,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: