Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin told Deadline that Painter’s body was discovered by a friend who went to check on Painter after not hearing from him for several days. There were no signs of foul play or suspicious circumstances.
“He was located on Friday but probably passed away a day or two ahead of that,” Bergin said. “Friends contacted the Sheriff’s office, and we went in and discovered his body. There was no evidence of foul play.”
Authorities are awaiting toxicology results before deterimining a cause of death.
The Daily Astorian reported in January that Painter had been arrested after a police officer said he spotted the second-generation crabber smoking heroin in his car. The paper said he was charged with DUI and heroin possession, among other things.
Painter captained the crabber ship Maverick during king crab season in the reality series’ 2006 season. A longtime deckhand on the vessel, he was disappointed at being passed over for its captaincy during the previous season and ended up taking time off for family reasons. But he was at the ship’s helm for Season 3 in 2007, his last on the show.
The series is now in its 14th season.
Watch a clip from Season 3 of Deadliest Catch that features Painter at the 1:32 mark: