Tuna fisherman killed in freak accident remembered

SAN DIEGO - Dozens gathered to remember a beloved local fisherman who was killed in a freak accident during a tuna fishing trip off the coast of American Samoa.

Raymond Aguirre, 26, was aboard the Cape Breton, a ship that catches tuna for companies like Star Kist and San Diego-based Chicken of the Sea.

"Ultimately, the plan was for when my father retires, I run the boat and he was going to be my navigator," said Justin Rodrigues.

Aguirre was with Rodrigues aboard the ship just a day from coming back to San Diego.

"He'd been out there 27 months without a problem," said Rodrigues.

Rodrigues says as they were hooking up to another ship in port in American Samoa, a freak accident took place.

"Unbelievable … I don't know how else to describe it," he said.

As Rodrigues explains it, the other ship threw them their lines, attaching them at the bow and the stern. The lines were attached to the ship's heavy duty wenches.

As they were being pulled into port, Aguirre began taking in the slack.

"The line got so tight that it hopped over the stanchion that was holding it. It actually bent the stanchion, hopped over and it caught the top of his head … he was instantly killed," said Rodrigues.

On Saturday, friends and family gathered to remember Aguirre at the Tunaman's Memorial on Shelter Island, where his name will soon be added to the list of the many local fishermen lost at sea.

"When he got this job as a fisherman he was so happy and he really liked it and he was so good at it," said friend Catherine Best.

She says he was looking very forward to getting back to San Diego because he missed his family so much.

Those who knew him say he will always be remembered for his smile, kindness and incredible sense of humor.

Aguirre grew up in Point Loma and was a graduate of Point Loma High School.

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