Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Scary Overboard Moment On Deadliest Catch You Might Have Forgotten About

The title of Discovery Channel's popular reality show "Deadliest Catch" isn't an exaggeration. Throughout the show's many seasons, the captains and crew of the crabbing boats have seen their fair share of tragedy on land and at sea. Most notably, when the captain of the Cornelia Marie, Phil Harris, suffered a stroke and later died after almost two weeks in an ICU in Anchorage, Alaska. The show also had many other sad endings to storylines of captains and crew who operated the crabbing boats on the frigid waters of the Bering Sea.

Some crew members would lose their lives at sea, while others passed away on land, such as Ross Jones, who made an impact on everyone who knew him. But not all of the harrowing moments in the show ended in tragedy — one story from Season 3 ended up being a tale of how experience and a watchful eye can save lives when out on the Bering Sea.

Rough seas and a dangerous job cause a man to slip overboard

It was the third season of "Deadliest Catch" when viewers witnessed a situation that had all the markings of a tragedy. A production crew was embedded on the Time Bandit — a boat that would go on to be featured in over a dozen seasons of the show — when the ship's captain, Johnathan Hillstrand, watched a deckhand from a nearby boat get swallowed up by the waves. The deckhand was trying to secure crab pots on the vessel in 30-foot waves — an extremely dangerous practice, especially during rough seas.

Hillstrand and his crew kept a close eye on the deckhand as he was straddling the rail of the nearby vessel while chaining the pots to the boat. That's when disaster struck. As the ship rolled back and forth through the massive waves, the deckhand was practically submerged in the waters that crested over the side of the vessel. After the boat moved heavily to the port side and a giant wave enveloped the vessel's deck, Hillstrand noticed the deckhand had disappeared.

Immediately, he sounded the alarm and announced to his crew, "Man overboard, man overboard," and began preparations to rescue the lost deckhand. After the alarm was raised, Hillstrand turned his vessel to intercept the deckhand who had gone overboard because it can only take a few minutes in the water before hypothermia sets in.

Tragedy is overcome through the watchful eye and quick action of a captain

Johnathan Hillstrand's keen eye and years of experience allowed him to recognize a situation that could turn deadly and gave him the intuition to act quickly. Temperatures of the Bering Sea can range from below freezing to a little over 50 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the time of year — according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And any time your body temperature drops below 89 degrees, it is critical to warm up before hypothermia sets in.

Hillstrand's crew was able to pull the struggling deckhand aboard just in time as the team recognized that he was in the early stages of shock. They stripped the deckhand of his wet clothes and worked to bring his body temperature up before he suffered any complications from the cold. The deckhand would survive, and he showed gratitude to the captain and crew as they worked to warm him up.

The quick response of Hillstrand and his crew shows the brotherhood that these fishermen share as they risk their lives every minute they are out on the frigid Bering Sea. The staff of the Time Bandit didn't waste a second in recognizing the danger their fellow deckhand was in while working on those rough seas, and they were willing to risk their own lives to save a member of another boat's crew.

Hillstrand would note later in the episode that the last time they were in that situation, they "pulled a dead guy out of the water." Fortunately, this circumstance had a much brighter outcome.