By Marjorie Nesin
---- — Police said Monday they are awaiting word from the state’s medical examiner on the cause of death for the man who died aboard the trawler Osprey Sunday, while Coast Guard officials explained why they called for the vessel to travel to Gloucester rather than launch a more immediate rescue mission when the vessel was still out to sea.
Crew members on board the herring trawler Osprey first contacted the Coast Guard regarding what appeared to be a “severe asthma attack” that caused Michael Grindle to collapse Sunday at around 3:45 a.m. The Coast Guard notified the Osprey’s crew that Coast Guard members would not be responding to the medical emergency at sea.
“There is a Coast Guard policy of how and when we send helicopters based on survival numbers after CPR,” Bryan Swintek, Command Center Chief at Sector Southeastern New England said Monday.
He explained that statistics show a person undergoing chest compressions will typically survive for under an hour without access to a heart defibrillator. A Coast Guard helicopter could have reached the 107-foot herring trawler in about two hours, but the trip to the hospital would expend another hour, he said.
Guard members from the Southeastern sector that received the emergency call instead instructed the crew to perform CPR on Grindle, and his colleagues on board pumped at his chest until about 4 a.m., when his pulse dropped away.
A Coast Guard spokeswoman said that to break from the CPR compressions in order to hoist Grindle into the helicopter would have only have proved more detrimental to Grindle’s critical health.
“There would have been no benefit to the victim to actually conduct the med evac,” Myeonghi Clegg said.
Instead, the vessel steamed on to Gloucester with Grindle’s body aboard on a trip that took some 12 hours.
At the time of the first call, the trawler crew had mapped the Osprey’s location as 65 miles from Chatham, according to Coast Guard spokespeople Sunday. Though Coast Guard members said Sunday that they had initially directed the vessel to Gloucester because it was the closest port, a spokesman said Monday that the vessel had also pushed toward its home port because it was considered home to the deceased.
“It was less about getting him to the hospital and more about getting him to the correct port at that point,” Swintek said.
Police, meanwhile, are investigating the death as an “unknown medical condition” that killed Grindle, who lived in Blue Hill, a coastal town in Maine, but had been fishing aboard the Osprey for about two months and living at a Mystic Avenue home in Gloucester while working out of the port.
When the green trawler docked at the otherwise vacant Empire fish wharf adjacent to Coast Guard Gloucester about 4:30 p.m. Gloucester detectives and U.S. Coast Guard members boarded the boat. Not long after, officers from the state medical examiner’s office lifted a body bag from the vessel.
Police discovered a small quantity of what appeared to be a Class A drug in Grindle’s room on board, according to police.But a Gloucester Police K9, trained to sniff out drugs entered the boat but turned up no further illegal substances on the vessel.
Police do not expect to file charges in the case, Campanello said late Sunday night.
Standard protocol requires that the Coast Guard carry out its own investigation, as in any situation involving a marine casualty. Meanwhile, the state medical examiner will continue the police investigation, and Gloucester police sent the substance of what appears to be a Class A drug to a state lab for testing. The listing of Class A drugs includes heroin.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.