A commercial fisherman and Montauk local died after an accident on his boat while he was on the job on Saturday night.
Donald Alversa, 24, was on the Jason & Danielle fishing boat 45 miles northeast of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, when a wire snapped and struck him. According to Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill of the U.S. Coast Guard Fifth District, he suffered a laceration to his head and neck area from the parted wire.
The Coast Guard was contacted at approximately 8:30 p.m. about an injured crew member aboard the 90-foot commercial fishing vessel out of Montauk.
Coast Guard North Carolina dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to Medevac Mr. Alversa, who was hoisted to the helicopter, but “the situation worsened,” Petty Officer Hill said. “When he was hoisted up he had a pulse and then at some point during the ride in the helicopter, that changed.”
A Coast Guard rescue swimmer performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but when the helicopter landed at the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia, hospital personnel declared Mr. Alversa dead, Petty Officer Hill said.
By the time his family was put in touch with the hospital, they were informed that it was “too late and he had passed away,” according to Kenneth Alversa of Montauk, the fisherman’s older brother, who is an East Hampton Town Police officer. “Everybody is still in shock. It’s overwhelming and nobody knows what to say.”
Officer Alversa, 26, said his brother, who loved to tinker with his maroon 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle, was always proud of what he caught on the big dragger.
“He never shared stories, but whenever he’d have a big catch—a load of squid—he always had pictures,” Officer Alversa said. “He came in and he’d show everybody.”
According to his family, Mr. Alversa became a commercial fisherman as soon as he graduated from East Hampton High School. He had worked on the Jason & Danielle for two years. The boat, which is one of the biggest commercial fishing vessels in Montauk, also docks in Cape May, New Jersey.
Anthony Sosinski of the Anna Mary out of Montauk, the captain of the same crew that nearly lost fisherman John Aldridge in July when he went overboard, said that Mr. Alversa was a friend of the family.
When Mr. Alversa was 10 years old, he came by the Sosinskis’ house and asked Mr. Sosinski’s daughter Melanie to come out and play with him and his buddies. They grew up and skateboarded together, Mr. Sosinski said.
“He became a fisherman. Most people don’t do that anymore,” he said. “He fed the world. The squid he caught went around the world. He was fish farming. That’s what he was doing.”
In grief over Mr. Alversa’s death, Mr. Sosinski said commercial fishing is the most dangerous job there is, especially because of how heavy and dangerous the equipment on fishing vessels can be.
“It doesn’t know any better—it doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman or child,” he said about both the equipment and the danger of the ocean.
Even though the case is closed, Coast Guard Sector North Carolina is investigating the sequence of events that led to Mr. Alversa’s death, according to Petty Officer Hill.
“The community is in mourning,” Mr. Sosinski said. “We lost a young man who grew up and became a fisherman. Everybody’s grieving.”
Visitation for Mr. Alversa will be held on Thursday, September 12, from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home on Pantigo Road in East Hampton. As of Tuesday, the family was still planning funeral arrangements.
In addition to his brother, Mr. Alversa is survived by his mother, Renee Alversa of Montauk, his father, Michael Kalimnios of Florida, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Mr. Alversa’s cousin, Clinton Earl Wizelius of Montauk, said the community has been supportive since news of the accident.
“I loved him,” Mr. Wizelius said. “The community has reached out so sincerely to my family, and more importantly, to his mom. It’s nice to see how loved he was throughout the community.”
Mr. Wizelius said it was no surprise to find out just how cared for he was. “He would give the shirt off his back,” he said. “He’s the man.”
Staff writer Virginia Garrison contributed to the reporting of this story.