It’s no secret that deep-sea fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet. Along with that danger, there can also be tragedy. Sadly, several cast members on Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch have passed away doing their jobs.
In 2020, the Deadliest Catch family suffered another loss. Captain Gary Cobban Jr. was 61 years old when his passion and occupation took his life. So, what happened to the fisherman?
The Scandies Rose ship went down in the Gulf of Alaska on a fishing mission.
Gary Cobban Jr. was the skipper of the Scandies Rose when it sank in the Gulf of Alaska during what was supposed to be a routine fishing excursion to catch cod and crab. The boat capsized and sank on New Year’s Eve near Sutwik Island off the Alaska Peninsula. After a search and rescue, there were two survivors. Unfortunately, Gary was not one of them. Nor was Gary's son, David Cobban.
According to Gary’s sister, he was from a family of crabbers who resided mainly in Kodiak, Alaska. “He was identified as among the missing along with his son, David Cobban, of Kodiak, Rainey, who lived in Idaho, and Arthur Ganacias and Seth Rousseau-Gano, both from Washington,” The Seattle Times reported.
In June 2021, members of Gary and David Cobban's family gathered to unveil their headstones. "Bleeding hearts for days ... and unveiling Gary Cobban, Jr and David Cobban’s headstone," the caption read.
Gary’s ex-girlfriend was the last one to speak to him the night he died.
The evening that the Scandies Rose sank, Gary called his ex-girlfriend to wish her a happy new year. According to Jeri Lynn Smith, Gary sounded like his normal self despite intense weather conditions. She told the Anchorage Daily News that he called her around 8 p.m. and wished her a happy new year. They talked for a bit before he mentioned tucking the boat somewhere safe due to the weather.
“When I talked to him he told me the boat was icing and it had a list to it but he didn’t sound alarmed. He didn’t sound scared," she said. “The boat ices. The boat ices every winter. It’s just something they deal with. I didn’t worry about it.”
After Gary’s tragic death, Jeri looked back on what a funny and eccentric person Gary was. “Gary was a character. Gary could tell stories, true stories of the pickles he’d been in, things that had happened. Fishing stories,” she recalled.
The survivors of the accident spoke out about the tragic event.
The two survivors of the Scandies Rose sinking were Dean Gribble Jr. and John Lawler. Dean decided to speak his truth in a YouTube video, which has since gone private and is unavailable for viewing by the public. In the video, he said the boat started listing hard to the starboard side.
In fishing terms, “listing” is when a vessel takes on water and tilts to one side. Dean described the evening as having the “worst possible conditions that included 20-foot seas, strong winds, and icing conditions.”
“Everyone was trying to get out. … I just wish the other guys could have made it,” he said. Seemingly from Dean’s account, it appears that there was very little time for any of the fishermen to save themselves. He described going from “sleeping to swimming in about 10 minutes.”