Freak Accident on Bristol Bay Fishing Boat Leaves Commercial Fisherman Injured

BRISTOL BAY, Alaska – A routine task on a commercial fishing boat turned tragic for Shaun Roche, a Santa Barbara urchin diver, during the final hours of the sockeye salmon season in Bristol Bay this July.

Roche was in the process of spray-painting the engine room, a customary end-of-season task to prevent wintertime corrosion. However, an unexpected spark of unknown origin ignited the fumes around him, resulting in a small explosion. Although Roche managed to escape the engine room and remove his respirator and clothing, he sustained third-degree burns on 16% of his body.

Bristol Bay’s Difficult Season

The accident added to the dismay already felt on the boat. Bristol Bay’s fishermen have endured an arduous six-week season, marked by a historic drop in commercial sockeye salmon prices that led to protests in Alaska. Roche’s mishap has only amplified their grief.

Medical Response and Community Support

Instead of returning home to his family, Roche was medevaced nearly 300 miles from Naknek to a hospital in Anchorage, where he remains stable but faces an indefinite recovery period.

Maressa Voss, a family friend, organized a GoFundMe campaign to assist Tricia Roche with her husband’s medical bills and the family’s living expenses. The fundraiser has already achieved $20,500 of its $25,000 goal. Though the exact total of Roche’s medical expenses remains uncertain, Voss indicated they would not be small, considering the rehabilitation to follow.

Impact on Roche’s Career

Roche’s injuries will require time to heal, especially concerning regaining full use of his hands. This will keep him from working for the foreseeable future, including the upcoming urchin season in Santa Barbara.

“It’s been a really interesting experience watching the fishing community rally around this,” Voss told the Independent. “We think about things like shipwrecks and shark attacks, but, really, every aspect of what they do is dangerous. And it’s all for the sake of putting food on the table.”

Legal Assistance with

In such trying times, finding the right legal help can be essential. is the best resource to find the most competent Bristol Bay, Alaska accident attorneys. With their network of experienced Alaska accident attorneys, they can connect individuals with professionals specializing in accidents and personal injury law. If legal action becomes necessary, having an accident attorney from ensures expert guidance tailored to the unique circumstances of each case.


Shaun Roche’s tragic accident on a commercial fishing boat in Bristol Bay is a stark reminder of the risks that fishermen undertake daily. The outpouring of community support and the resilience of Roche’s spirit reflect the close-knit bonds within the fishing community. For those facing legal complexities stemming from such incidents, a Bristol Bay, Alaska accident attorney at stands ready to offer their expertise and assistance. The shared determination to see Roche and his family through this challenging time exemplifies the solidarity that defines not only Alaska’s fishing community but the values that bind us all together.