'Deadliest Catch' Deaths: Cast Members Who Have Tragically Died (2024)

The title of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch is no exaggeration. The long-running reality series profiles the lives of crew members working in the commercial crab fishing industry, one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S. Over the years, several of the show’s cast members have died. Some were involved in work-related accidents on fishing vessels in the harsh Bering Sea, while others had health issues or were battling addiction. Here are just a few of the Deadliest Catch cast members who have died after appearing on the show.

‘Deadliest Catch’ cast member Todd Kochutin died in a 2021 accident

Commercial fisherman regularly put their lives on the line to do their job. An average of 43 people working in the field die from a traumatic work-related injury every year, according to the CDC, a rate far higher than for the average worker. Sadly, Deadliest Catch’s Todd Kochutin was one of those deaths. In 2021, the 30-year-old was fatally injured in an accident on board the F/V Patricia Lee. The show later revealed that he’d been hit by a 800-pound crab pot.

“I mean, this is a cold hard reminder of what can happen,” Captain Bill Wichrowski said when he learned of Todd’s death (via YouTube). “I don’t know how many more of these we can take, man. It seems like every quarter we’re losing somebody.”

Captain Phil Harris’s death stunned fans of the Discovery Channel series

'Deadliest Catch' Deaths: Cast Members Who Have Tragically Died (1)

Captain Phil Harris was the breakout star of the earliest seasons of Deadliest Catch, which premiered in 2005. But in January 2010, he experienced a massive stroke while working on the F/V Cornelia Marie. He was flown to an Anchorage hospital and was placed in an induced coma. Harris died a little over a week later at age 53.

Harris’s stroke occurred mid-way through filming for season 6. The cameras kept rolling while Harris was in the hospital and even captured his touching goodbye to his son Josh Harris, which was seen in a Deadliest Catch episode that aired in July 2010.

Nick McGlashan died of an apparent drug overdose in 2020

Some Deadliest Catch deaths aren’t directly related to fishing. In December 2020, F/V Summer Bay deck boss Nick McGlashan died of an apparent drug overdose at a hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. His death – which came just hours before the start of the winter season — was a major blow for Wichrowski.

“Nick was a part of Summer Bay and pretty much every boat Bill’s been running lately,” said Captain Sig Hansen shortly after he heard the news (via YouTube). “Bill, you know, treated him as family. I couldn’t imagine what he’s going through right now.”

Mahlon Reyes was a ‘Deadliest Catch’ deckhand

Mahlon Reyes was Deadliest Catch deckhand, working on the F/V Seabrooke and the F/V Cape Caution. He died of a heart attack in July 2020 at age 38, Variety reported. According to his autopsy, the cause of death was an accidental cocaine overdose.

McGlashan – who would die later that same year – paid tribute to his late friend in a tweet that read: “This place misses you. RIP Mahlon.”

Captain Tony Lara died during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally


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Veteran crab fisherman Tony Lara appeared on Deadliest Catch Season 7, where he was at the helm of the F/V Cornelia Marie. He died of a heart attack in August 2015 while he was in Sturgis, South Dakota, during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, E! News reported. Lara was 50 years old.

“Still in shock over losing Capt #TonyLara @alaskatuff #RIP my friend. You had a heart of gold,” Captain Casey McManus tweeted after Lara’s death.

Blake Painter appeared in ‘Deadliest Catch’ Seasons 2 and 3

Captain Blake Painter of the F/V Maverick appeared in Deadliest Catch Seasons 2 and 3 but quit the show in 2007. In 2018, roughly a decade after leaving the Discovery Channel docuseries, he was found dead in his home in Astoria, Oregon, after a friend reported not hearing from him for several days. Painter was 38. Police found multiple types of drugs, including heroin and meth, at the scene, according to a Fox News report.

F/V Time Bandit deckhand Justin Tennison died in 2011

Deadliest Catch cast member Justin Tennison was a deckhand on the F/V Time Bandit. He was found dead in a Homer, Alaska, hotel room in 2011. An autopsy later revealed that the 33-year-old had died due to complications related to sleep apnea.

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

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'Deadliest Catch' Deaths: Cast Members Who Have Tragically Died (2024)
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