"Deadliest Catch" Star Dies, Drugs Reportedly Found On Scene

By Victoria Kim 06/13/18

Police discovered a “black substance” and “white crystal substance” near Blake Painter's body, which they reportedly believe to be heroin and meth.

Blake Painter
Photo via YouTube

Substances that resemble heroin and methamphetamine were found at the scene of Captain Blake Painter’s death in late May. While Painter’s official cause of death is to be determined following a toxicology test and autopsy, the findings, coupled with his drug use history, so far point to a fatal drug overdose. 

The 38-year-old expert crab fisherman, who appeared on season 2 and part of season 3 of the Discovery Channel series Deadliest Catch, was discovered in his home in Astoria, Oregon, on May 25. According to police, “It appeared he had been dead for several days.”

It’s now being reported that police discovered drugs and a “small pipe” around Painter at the time. “Located on the couch were two pill bottles. One pill bottle was labeled Tramadol and contained the same. The other bottle was found to have an assortment of pills inside,” a police report stated. “On the table, I located a straw or pipe, tinfoil with brown residue and a small Altoids container.”

Police discovered a “black substance” and “white crystal substance” inside the container, which, according to TMZthey believe to be heroin and methamphetamine.

There was no evidence of foul play.

Painter was arrested this past January in Astoria and charged with “driving under the influence of intoxicants, unlawful possession of heroin, tampering with physical evidence and reckless driving,” according to the Daily Astorian. A police officer “allegedly saw Painter smoking the drug while driving” at the time.

In a 2013 feature "Sharecroppers of the Sea," Seattle Weekly describes the taxing physicality of being a fisherman. “These days [Painter] wakes up in the morning with his hands clamped closed and pain screaming up to his elbows, an ailment fishermen refer to as ‘the claw.’ He needs surgeries for carpal tunnel syndrome, and his shoulders and back have also fared poorly.”

It’s no secret that drug abuse is rife in the fishing industry, but it’s not just to numb the pain of the physically demanding nature of the job.

According to the Portland Press Herald, which covered Maine’s lobstering industry over on the East Coast, rather than the need to numb the pain of work injuries, “doctors, counselors and recovering addicts say… [most fishermen who use heroin] try it because it looks fun, because they’re bored and because it’s everywhere.”

One lobsterman, Tristan Nelson, is recovering from 20 years of heroin use. “I was just one more junkie on a lobster boat, counting down the hours until I could get my cash, until I could score," he told the Herald. "All those years I didn’t even realize that I had the best job in the world… What a waste."

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr