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Body of missing fisherman found in wreckage of Patty AJ

Salvage operations for the Patty AJ near the Coos Bay bar. SBG photo

CHARLESTON, Ore. - The body of a fisherman missing since his boat capsized last week was found inside the salvage wreckage of the vessel Wednesday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Jerry Lee Barkley, 68, of Coos Bay was the skipper aboard the Patty AJ when the vessel capsized and sank while crossing the Coos Bay bar the morning of March 23.

The three other fishermen aboard the vessel made it to shore OK that day. A dive team attempted to locate Barkley the same day the vessel sank, to no avail.

On Wednesday, a salvage crew brought the Patty AJ to the surface and moved it to shallower water on the side of the channel.

The Coos County Sheriff's Office said a dive team inspected the vessel Wednesday morning but didn't find the body.

The Coast Guard said Barkley's body was found inside the wreckage Wednesday evening.

The Charleston Fishing Families group is stepping up to raise funds for Barkley's family.

The group was created out of the Eagle III tragedy back in January and has been fundraising for the fishing community ever since.

"Most boats don't have insurance in general, let alone the ability for these men to be able to afford life insurance for their families," said Melissa Clemens with the Charleston Fishing Families group. "It's few and far between that can do that."

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