A fishing boat captain from Cushing was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for causing the deaths of two crewmen in 2014 when he took his boat out after an evening of drinking and drug use and the vessel capsized in a storm.

Christopher A. Hutchinson, 30, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Portland by Judge D. Brock Hornby for two counts of seaman’s manslaughter. The bodies of 27-year-old Tom Hammond and 15-year-old Tyler Sawyer were never found.

Hutchinson has been held at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland since March 2017. He will be given credit for time served and his sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release.

At a plea hearing in September, Sawyer’s stepmother, Amie Sawyer, told the judge that she wanted to see at least two more years added to the sentence, along with a provision that would take away Hutchinson’s fishing licenses.


Hutchinson was the captain of the lobster boat No Limits, which sank near Matinicus Island in a storm on Nov. 1, 2014. He purchased 20, 30-milligram oxycodone pills from two separate drug dealers, smoked marijuana with Sawyer’s father, and drank a rum and coke at a Rockland restaurant on Halloween 2014, court documents say. He then departed for a fishing trip at 1 a.m. from Linda Bean’s dock in Tenants Harbor. Rain was beginning to fall, and the forecast called for a gale.


As the winds gusted and the waves topped 14 feet, the 45-foot vessel flipped. An emergency radio beacon activated at 1:30 p.m. A Coast Guard helicopter found Hutchinson in a life raft without a survival suit or life preserver at 4 p.m. The bow of the No Limits was spotted by the helicopter at 5 p.m. with no signs of life. The helicopter transported Hutchinson to the hospital for treatment.

The Coast Guard issued letters of presumed death for both men late in November 2014. Federal prosecutors charged Hutchinson in 2016, and he faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Blood tests conducted the night of the sinking revealed Hutchinson had oxycodone and marijuana in his system. In January, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Attorney’s Office could not use the results of those tests at trial unless Hutchinson testified that he did not use any drugs.


Travis Sawyer, Tyler Sawyer’s father, told the Coast Guard that Hutchinson had purchased oxycodone the day before the boat sank and should be tested for drugs. Law enforcement took a blood sample from Hutchinson before he was released from Maine Medical Center in Portland. The judge ultimately said that investigators failed to obtain a warrant and did not have probable cause to take the sample.

The prosecutors filed an appeal of that decision, and then withdrew it. Jury selection was scheduled for the next week until the parties filed their plea agreement with the court earlier this month.

Hutchinson had admitted to overdosing on heroin and had his bail revoked in March 2017, and has been held since then.

Last month, a federal judge acquitted Camden charter boat captain Rick Smith of seaman’s manslaughter in connection with the death of a crew member in 2015.

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