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'Deadliest Catch' captain Phil Harris dies after recent stroke

February 9, 2010 |  9:14 pm

Catch

Phil Harris, captain of the Cornelia Marie on the Discovery Channel show "Deadliest Catch," has died at age 53.

On the show's Web page, where updates on Harris' condition had been posted since his Jan. 30 stroke, sons Jake and Josh Harris gave notice of their father's passing:

 "It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad -- Captain Phil Harris. Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end. For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down. We will remember and celebrate that strength. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers. -- Jake and Josh Harris"

Harris, who was based out of Seattle, suffered the stroke during an offload of crab. He was found unconscious in a stateroom, was airlifted to Anchorage for 12 hours of surgery, then placed in a medically induced coma. He'd shown signs of improvement last week, squeezing hands and even telling his doctors and nurses, in his signature gruff style, to not screw things up.

"Deadliest Catch" follows several crews working the Bering Sea during the area's crab fishing seasons. Harris, a fisherman for 32 years, was a co-owner of the Cornelia Marie, which he'd captained for 18 years; Jake and Josh work on the ship as deck hands, and Josh had remained on the ship immediately after his dad's stroke, awaiting the arrival of relief captain to continue the work. 

Fans reached out Tuesday night on the show's message boards -- where comments have been posted since Phil Harris fell ill -- offering condolences to the family.

Discovery Channel in its statement referred to Harris as "more than someone on our television screen. Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him. We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart."

[Updated, 10:25 p.m.: Inspired by commenter Maurice, I embedded a song below. "Sail On, Sailor," by the Beach Boys./cdz]

[Updated, 11:29 p.m., Feb. 10: Inspired by commenter Richard Proctor, I embedded another song below. "Ashokan Farewell." Good tune, Richard; beautiful, and so sad./cdz]

[Updated, 1:14 p.m., Feb. 12: Phil Harris will be seen again in the upcoming season of "Deadliest Catch," though producers aren't sure how the series will handle his death. The Ministry's new post also includes a little bit about how his desire for a cool car got the captain on those fishing boats in the first place.]

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Capt. Phil Harris with sons Josh, left, and Jake, right. Credit: Discovery Channel.



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