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Deadliest Catch premiere: Head injury victim’s rescue leaves chopper crew in peril

The crew of a rescue helicopter are left in severe danger as they carry out a daring rescue on tonight’s Season 14 premiere of Deadliest Catch.

It comes after a 21-year-old crew member aboard a fishing vessel suffers a serious head injury far out at sea, after being hit by a 50-lb bag of frozen bait.

The victim is struggling to stay conscious, has a detached retina, and is experiencing double-vision, a clear sign he likely has a concussion.

Like trying to thread a moving needle, our exclusive clip shows just how treacherous an at-sea rescue can be — with time not on the young victim’s side.

It also underscores the daily dangers our fishing and crab crews face. Before setting sail on Season 14 tonight, the Deadliest Catch captains will pay tribute to their friends and fellow fisherman from the F/V Destination, which was lost at sea last year.

Sig Hansen said of the tragedy in February last year: “It’s times like this that remind us just how fragile our lives are. And the dangers that we face. It’s times like this that make you go deep.”

After some tough seasons with low payouts, the Alaskan crab fleet are chasing a $120million bounty this season after the Bairdi fishery, a huge moneymaker, opened back up adding millions of pounds to the pot. The captains are stoked and there is a renewed sense of optimism.

With big money on the line, the fishing is more competitive than ever and the captains will battle to catch as much of the high-value crab as they can. But as always the biggest fight they face, as witnessed in our clip, is against the turbulent Bering Sea in the stormy dead of winter.

In the clip, the helicopter crew attempt to send a rescuer down to the fishing vessel Defender, which has the head trauma victim on board. But due to two high structures on the vessel’s deck, combined with rolling seas, the conditions are treacherous.

With the boat rolling and the rescuer’s wire whipping as it threatens to get caught, they are left with no choice but to shout: “Abort! Abort!”

The Defender rolls in big swells
The Defender rolls in big swells as the rescue helicopter approaches
The rescuer heads down from the chopper
The man is lowered from the chopper, but the situation quickly turns perilous

This season of Deadliest Catch is described by Discovery as the “roughest, toughest and most competitive crab season ever” as the captains and crews wage a huge contest to come out tops.

It sees captain Josh Harris, back after a year’s hiatus, co-captain the Cornelia Marie with Casey McManus. They need to jam on their quota of King Crab this year, but does Josh have his late father Phil Harris’s talent to command a vessel on the Bering Sea?

On the 107-foot Saga, Jake Anderson has given his rig $750,000 worth of upgrades and will begin his season floating on an ocean of debt. His mission is to make the money back and more — and do it on his own, without his mentor and father-figure Sig Hansen.

On the Northwestern, Captain Sig may have survived a near-fatal heart attack, but he’s tired of being lectured about his lifestyle. He feels strong and with his brother Edgar, he plans on being very successful this year.

Captain “Wild Bill” Wichrowski will helm the Summer Bay and has huge financial worries, but that’s nothing compared to the moment that one of his deckhands falls overboard in a violent storm.

Meanwhile, Captain Sean Dwyer of the Brenna A buys part of Wild Bill’s quota from under him, but is dealt a big blow when a huge wave causes his boat $30,000 of damage.

Last but not least is Captain Keith Colburn of the Wizard, who is aiming to outfish rival Sig Hansen — but faces his own life or death scare this season.

Deadliest Catch airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Discovery.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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