OCEAN CITY — Tragedy struck last weekend when a 59-year-old Glen Burnie man died after a 16-foot pleasure boat carrying six people capsized in the Ocean City Inlet near the south jetty, continuing a recent string of water-related fatalities across the region.
Shortly after 9 a.m. last Saturday, a 16-foot Wellcraft pleasure boat with six men aboard prepared to lift anchor in the area of the south jetty at the Inlet during an apparent fishing trip when the anchor line became ensnared with the vessel’s propeller. The snared propeller caused the boat’s engine to fail and it began to sink and ultimately flipped, sending its six occupants into the choppy water.
A Good Samaritan contacted U.S. Coast Guard watch standers and reported the capsized vessel with people in the water. Two Coast Guard rescue boats from Station Ocean City were launched and recovered five of the six victims. However, the body of the sixth victim, later identified as Henry Ki Chang Chung, 59, of Glen Burnie, was recovered in the ocean nearby unconscious and unresponsive.
Rescue crews performed CPR on the victim until they transferred him to Emergency Medical Services personnel waiting at Coast Guard Station Ocean City. The victim was taken to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death is still under investigation, but none of the men were wearing life jackets at the time of the accident.
Last Saturday’s recreational boating fatality in Ocean City was the ninth in two weeks in the mid-Atlantic region and the frequency of the fatalities in such a short time span represent a grim start to the summer beach and boating season. Although the locations and circumstances leading to the accidents vary, they all underscore two important lessons about enjoying time on or near the water, according to the Coast Guard.
“There is a certain element of risk when you go boating and there are inherent dangers to swimming in tidal waters,” said Coast Guard 5th District Recreational Boating Safety Specialist Dennis Sens. “As more people consider heading to the water, they should also consider how to be safe on it.”
The recent spike in deaths began May 30 with the drowning of a 42-year-old man who jumped in the water from a sailboat on the James River. He was not wearing a life jacket. Neither were two other recent boating fatalities, including a Virginia man who drowned near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay while sailing alone on June 4 and last weekend’s death.