On May 29, 2018, we learned that former Deadliest Catch captain Blake Painter was found dead in his home in Astoria, Oregon. Blake, who we were introduced to in Season 2 of Deadliest Catch, was only 38 years old. The details of the death are a bit gruesome: He was found several days after his actual death. A friend, concerned when they hadn't heard from him, went to go check on Blake and saw him on the floor of his home. He contacted the police, who immediately arrived at the scene and pronounced him dead on May 26.
Do we know Blake Painter's cause of death?
While the toxicology report was never publicly shared, TMZ learned through an incident report from the Clatsop County Sheriff's Office in Oregon that several types of drugs were found at the scene of death. This included strong painkiller Tramadol, an "assortment of pills," a pipe, tinfoil, and a contained filled with heroin and meth. The medical examiner found another pipe in Blake's pants. It was also reported that no foul play was suspected. Blake most likely died from an accidental overdose.
Although sources say that Blake was "sober and happy" days before he died (he even spent the day with his daughters on May 20, a day before he died), the former Deadliest Catch captain was caught using drugs before. On January 4, 2018, The Daily Astorian reported that Blake was arrested and charged driving under the influence of "intoxicants" as well as having heroin on him. The officer who arrested him reportedly saw Blake smoking heroin while driving.
A few days before Blake's death was publicly announced, Deck Boss Nick McGlashan and Blake's former Deadliest Catch colleague tweeted, "A fellow fisherman lost his life due to an overdose. Prayers to his family please." The tweet garnered many responses from fans. "38 years in and I'll never get used to this. Disease wants us dead," one Twitter user wrote. Another added, "Wishing his friends and family peace. May others facing his struggles give his death meaning by seeking their own strengths to overcome."
A fellow fisherman has lost his life due to an overdose. Prayers to his family please 🙏— Nick McGlashan (@NickMcglashan) May 26, 2018
Although many wonder what drove Blake to use drugs, the same drugs that probably killed him, we do know that the fisherman was in massive pain due to his physically demanding job. In a 2013 profile of Blake, published in the Seattle Weekly, we learned that he suffered from a condition called "the claw" as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. When you have "the claw" your fingers are literally bent, making your hand look like a claw.
According to the profile, "These days he wakes up in the morning with his hands clamped closely and pain screaming up to his elbows, an ailment fishermen refer to as 'the claw.' He needs surgeries for carpal tunnel syndrome, and his shoulders and back have also fared poorly." The article also mentions harsh working conditions which no doubt contributed to Blake's declining mental and physical health.
The expert crab fisherman and captain will always be very much missed.