University of Oregon Article

UO student Ben Eder dies at sea

The 21-year-old biochemistry major was working on a crabbing boat that capsized Dec. 11

By Kara Cogswell
Oregon Daily Emerald
December 14, 2001

A University student died when the fishing boat he was working on during winter break capsized off the Oregon coast Dec.11.

Junior Ben Eder, 21, was one of four men aboard the Nesika, a 40 ft. crabbing vessel owned by Eder’s father, Bob Eder of Newport. The boat overturned a half-mile off Yaquina Head as it lowered crab pots to the ocean floor, and washed ashore on Beverly Beach, just north of Newport.

Coast Guard crews searched for the missing fishermen without success before calling off rescue efforts the next day. Their bodies have not yet been recovered. Coast Guard spokeswoman Aida Cabrera said the cause of the accident is under investigation.

A community memorial service for the four men will be held at 2 p.m. on Dec.15, in the Newport Church of the Nazarene. Their names will also be added to a marker inside the Fishermen’s Memorial Sanctuary at Yaquina Bay State Park.

A celebration of Eder's life will be held on Dec.21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Newport Performing Arts Center. Those attending are encouraged to share their memories of him.

In the past nine years, 25 commercial fishermen in Oregon have lost their lives at sea. Crab season, which opens in early December, can be particularly dangerous because boats head out into choppy winter seas in a race to harvest the best loads of crab as quickly as possible. Ten crew members from the Newport crab fleet have died since 1994.

Matt Harner, a 21-year-old Newport fisherman, was on a crab boat about a mile and a half away from the Nesika when it went down. Weather conditions that day were “pretty rough,” he said, but not out of the ordinary.

“It was just random chance,” he said. “No one could have seen it, and no one could have stopped it.”

When he heard the Nesika had capsized, Harner said he prayed that Eder, a close friend and high school classmate, was not on the boat.

“He was a great guy,” he said. “He had so much potential, so much going for him.”

Eder graduated as class salutatorian from Newport High School in 1998. A biochemistry major, he transferred to the University last year from Reed College in Portland.

When he had a break from school, he always came back to Newport to work on the fishing boats, Harner said.

“He loved fishing,” he said. “He loved going out on the ocean.”