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The Independent II


January 7, 1930

John W. Wagner Swept To Death By Heavy Sea
Lost Life Off Here Yesterday While Pumping Storm-Beaten Craft
Leaves Widow and Six Children

Swept from the deck of a wave-washed fishing boat, 10 miles from home, John W. Wagner, 39 years old, lost his life yesterday from the flounder dragger Independent II, owned by Capt. Byron Beasley of this city.  Wagner was a native of Blue Rocks, Lunenburg County, N. S., and leaves a wife and six children, the youngest of whom is three years.

According to information made public by the Coast Guard yesterday afternoon, when the patrol boat 154 in charge of Chief Boatswain's Mate Kuuse convoyed the Independent II to port, Wagner was drowned when a pump handle slipped from his grasp, and he was pitched into the sea.

The Independent II, said to have been fishing about 10 miles from Folly Cove, put into Newburyport for shelter Sunday evening, driven there by a stiff wind in the bay.  Yesterday morning before dark, the craft again started and when daylight came, was making bad weather.  The wind had brisked up from the southwest, washing the boat, which is but 40 feet long from stem to stern, and carrying much of the gear away.

Then the stuffing box began to leak, according to Capt. Beasley's story, and while Wagner was pumping the water out, the fatal accident happened.  Leaking but slowly, the craft was headed for shore when she suddenly side-slipped between two waves, and the pump handle slipped from the pump, causing Wagner to lose his balance and fall into the sea.  Capt. Beasley put the craft about but the unfortunate man was not to be seen.  The skipper then placed the flag at half-mast and started for this port.

On the way in the patrol boat coming in from off-shore patrol, sighted the Independent II, and the flying flag and bore down on the craft.   Capt. Beasley requested that the patrol boat convoy him in and stand by in case he had to abandon the craft.

Shortly after noon, the Independent arrived here and reported the death of Wagner.

Mr. and Mrs. Wagner came to Gloucester from Nova Scotia about seven years ago and have since made their home here.  They have six children, two boys and four girls.  Wagner was of a sunny disposition, always wore a smile, and though quiet and a man of few words, made friends readily.

[Wagner's son, John W. Wagner, Jr. was lost at sea in 1962 at age 36, from the Midnight Sun.]


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