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'Deadliest Catch' skipper Blake Painter found dead in Oregon home

Painter, 38, was found dead Friday by a friend who became concerned after not seeing him for several days.

Blake Painter, a former crab fisherman on Deadliest Catch, was found dead in his home last week, according to authorities in Clatsop County, Ore., who are awaiting toxicology reports before declaring the cause of death.

Painter, 38, was found dead Friday by a friend who became concerned after not seeing him for several days, Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin told USA TODAY. When the friend stopped by Painter's home just outside the town of Astoria, Ore., he saw a body lying prone on the kitchen floor and called the Sheriff's Office, Bergin said.

Bergin said Painter had been dead for a couple of days by the time deputies entered the house and found him. The cause of death has not been determined, he said.

He said there were no signs of foul play or suspicious circumstances. Drugs, including prescription drugs, were found in the home but they may not have anything to do with Painter's death, Bergin said.

"We just have to wait a few weeks for the toxicology report," he said.

Bergin said Painter was familiar to local law enforcement, having "visited our facility a few times."

The local newspaper, The Daily Astorian, reported in January that Painter was arrested by Astoria police after an officer allegedly saw Painter smoking heroin while driving. Painter was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, unlawful possession of heroin, tampering with physical evidence and reckless driving.

Painter was a second-generation fisherman, born and raised in Astoria and fished from the time he was 3, according to a fan site for Deadliest Catch.

Credit: Cameron Glendenning/ Discovery Channel
Crab pots launched in big seas aboard a crab boat on The Deadliest Catch in April 2009. (Photo: Cameron Glendenning/ Discovery Channel)

The Discovery Channel reality-TV show, now in its 14th season, is about crab fishing in Alaska, reputed to be one of the most deadly professions in the world. The show has won 16 Emmys.

Discovery declined to comment on Painter.

Painter appeared on the show in early seasons, working as an engineer and eventually as the skipper of the crab boat F/V Maverick for a total of six years.

Bergin said his county, located on the coast west of Portland near the Washington state border, is rich in natural resources, thus attracting reality-TV productions such as Deadliest Catch and Ax Men, which followed logging crews in the local forests.

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