ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Phil Harris, the fishing boat captain whose adventures off the Alaska coast were captured on the television show "Deadliest Catch," has died, the Discovery Channel said Tuesday night. He was 53.
Harris suffered what his family described as a massive stroke on Jan. 29 while the fishing vessel he captained, Cornelia Marie, was in port at St. Paul Island, Alaska. The fisherman was flown to Anchorage for surgery.
The reality show, which has filmed five seasons, has been one of the Discovery Channel's most popular, and depicts crab fishing in dangerous waters off Alaska.
"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," sons Josh and Jake Harris said in a statement.
According to the ship's Web site, Harris started working on fishing boats at age 7 and started work 10 years later on a crab boat. When Harris turned 21, he ran a fishing vessel out of Seattle, making him one of the youngest to captain a vessel in the Bering Sea.
When Harris suffered the stroke, the family said a friend, Derek Ray, had flown to St. Paul to take over the role of relief skipper for the rest of the opilio crab season.