January 7, 1930
John W. Wagner Swept To
Death By Heavy Sea
Lost Life Off Here Yesterday While Pumping Storm-Beaten
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
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.]