Boater Gets 30 Days For Summer Bridge Crash

SNOW HILL – A Rockville man who crashed his 21-foot ski boat into the supports for the Route 90 bridge early in the morning on July 6, sending its 10 occupants into the murky water with injuries of varying severity was found guilty last week in District Court of operating a vessel while impaired, negligent operation and reckless operation and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, half of which was suspended in favor of probation and a fine.

Scott Howard Shepard, 32, of Rockville, appeared in District Court in Snow Hill last Friday to face numerous charges related to last summer’s boating accident in Ocean City. Shepard will serve 30 days in jail, was placed on probation for three years and fined $500. Shepard was also found guilty of reckless and negligent operation of a vessel, but those charges were merged with the operating while impaired charge for the purpose of sentencing.

Around 1 a.m. on July 6, a 21-foot fiberglass ski boat carrying 10 people collided with an abutment on the Route 90 bridge, severely damaging the vessel and sending all of its occupants into the murky water with various injuries. Maryland Natural Resources Police along with the Coast Guard and the Ocean City Fire Department responded to the scene a short time later, as did several local firefighters in their private boats, including OCPD Captain and volunteer firefighter Kevin Kirstein, who was among the first to arrive on the scene.

By the time Kirstein arrived, two of the victims were clinging to the base of the bridge. The others were still in the water with a wide variety of injuries including neck and back injuries, cuts, scrapes, abrasions and even shock. The victims were loaded on the various rescue boats, including many from the private sector, and taken first to nearby Advance Marine where they could be transported to area hospitals. Early on in the incident, the fire command staff put mass casualty protocols into effect, essentially alerting all area hospitals to prepare for accepting victims.

Because of the dense fog, Maryland State Police and Coast Guard helicopters could not land in Ocean City and the rescue boats with the victims were forced to resort to another option. The Coast Guard helicopter could and ultimately did land in Ocean Pines and the rescue boats were redirected there where a triage of sorts was set up where the victims’ injuries were assessed. Two victims were sent to PRMC in Salisbury, while six were taken to AGH.