Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tragedy On The High Seas

This is a gripping seven-part series in the Seattle Post-Intellegencer about a woman, Rose Bard, who was seriously injured while working on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea, her hair-raising rescue and her difficult recuperation while awaiting the birth of her child.

A taste:
One of Rose's routine tasks as a quality-control technician was to scour equipment with pressure hoses. She donned her rain gear and XtraTuff boots, checked with her supervisor to make sure a large hopper funnel was shut down for cleaning, and climbed into the bowl-shaped machine. A waist-high, stainless-steel vat with two fat screws at the bottom of it, the funnel churned the pollock paste into pans for freezing. She scrubbed away, chatting with a fellow worker, who was cleaning the machine next to hers.

Suddenly, the ship lurched as a massive wave slammed the side of the boat. The impact sent a deckhand reeling against the switch that turned on Rose's machine. She felt something grab her feet from behind, yanking her to her knees. Pain seared up her legs. She could feel her bones crunching. She looked behind and saw her feet disappearing into the bowels of the machine. Only the pole of the paddle blade that stirred the pollock, now wedged between her knees, prevented the rest of her body from being sucked through the turning screws. Above her, the orange emergency stop cord hung just out of her reach.

Help me! She screamed. Get me out!