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Deadliest Catch Members You May Not Know Passed Away

As its title suggests, "Deadliest Catch" chronicles the perilous world of crabbing, as well as the financial and emotional hardships that come with one of the deadliest jobs on the high seas. The series' combination of high-octane grit and documentary-style realism has been a boon for the Discovery Channel, which has been airing "Deadliest Catch" since 2005 to millions of devoted viewers. 

"Deadliest Catch" has tragically lived up to its name several times, with various cast members succumbing to personal tragedies. Perhaps most famously, Captain Phil Harris suffered from a stroke in 2010 while aboard the Cornelia Marie. Shortly after, he died of a pulmonary embolism (via The New York Times). A few months later, deckhand Justin Tennison died in his sleep. He was 34 years old (via People).

Given the high-risk world of "Deadliest Catch," some of the show's tragedies tend to fly under the radar. Here are some cast and crew members of "Deadliest Catch" who you may not know have passed away.

Joseph McMahon

Although crabbing and commercial fishing are incredibly dangerous in and of themselves, sometimes danger looms far from the docks of Dutch Harbor. Nor, it seems, does the ominous reputation of "Deadliest Catch" apply only to fishermen. In 2015, associate producer Joseph McMahon was fatally shot outside of his home in Pasadena, California, after he went outside to investigate a strange sound. He was 24 years old. Per IMDb, McMahon worked on 19 episodes of "Deadliest Catch" between 2013 and 2014.

According to CBS, the alleged shooter, also 24, was found dead in his car the same day from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. McMahon's father, Tom, later wrote an essay for Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization under the umbrella of Everytown for Gun Safety, that expanded on the circumstances behind his son's death. According to the elder McMahon, Joe was shot by an old friend from high school. "We will do whatever is asked of us because we strongly believe in a common goal," wrote Tom. "To end gun violence."

Blake Painter

Joseph McMahon's passing wasn't the only one to occur outside a fishing vessel. On May 25, 2018, fisherman Blake Painter died at 38, more than ten years after his last appearance on "Deadliest Catch." Painter had previously starred in Season 2 beginning in 2006 and been a part of Season 3 before departing the series.

The expert crabber and former captain of the F/V Maverick was found dead in his home in Oregon by a friend who had become concerned by Painter's absence. Although prescription pain killers were found at the site of his death, there was reportedly no foul play (via The Seattle Times). Painter had been arrested for a DUI a few months prior to his death and charged with "unlawful possession of heroin, tampering with physical evidence and reckless driving."

Tragically, Painter isn't the only "Deadliest Catch" member with a history of drug use. People reports that deck boss Nick McGlashan died of an overdose In 2020, the same year deckhand Mahlon Reyes died of acute cocaine intoxication, via The Sun. Their deaths are a sobering reminder of the insidious reach of addiction. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Josh Paulus, Danny Matlock, and Blaine Steinmetz

In 2016, The Discovery Channel launched the spin-off "Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove." The short-lived series followed Oregon crab fleets who braved the Pacific Northwest coast, also known as the "graveyard of the Pacific," to seek out highly prized Dungeness crabs. Though it only aired for six episodes, the spin-off made quick work of living up to its name, as tragedy struck in Episode 3, titled "Lost at Sea."

The episode follows a number of fishing vessels in real-time as they endure a storm in Coos Bay, with the crews of F/V Galway Bay, F/V Western Breeze, F/V Redeemer, and F/V Excalibur all providing commentary. Unfortunately, the vessel Eagle III wasn't so lucky, and the tense episode quickly evolves into a search and rescue mission for its three crew members: Josh Paulus, Danny Matlock, and Blaine Steinmetz. None of the three men survived the night (via KVAL).

Miraculously, the captain, Glenn Burkhow, who happens to be Paulus' father-in-law, was able to swim back to shore and survive the ordeal. "It's going to be tough. It is really tough," Burkhow told KCBY. "One of them was my granddaughter's dad, and that's a real reminder of this tragedy."