Boating Fatality On Assateague

ASSATEAGUE — Tragedy struck this week when a boat capsized in the surf just off the coast of Assateague on Wednesday, claiming the life of one as-yet-unidentified man and sending a second to an area hospital.

Shortly after noon on Wednesday, Coast Guard Station Ocean City received a call to respond to a reported capsizing of a small commercial boat in the surf just off the coast of Assateague with victims in the water.

The Coast Guard launched a rescue boat and responded to the scene and discovered one of the victims had found his way to shore on his own, while the second was still in the water.

Assateague National Seashore park rangers also responded to the scene and assisted with the rescue and recovery of the individuals, according to Coast Guard Station Ocean City Petty Officer Alonzo Curry.

“The boat capsized in the surf close to shore,” said Curry yesterday. “The two men in the boat were launched into the water and one made it out on his own. The gentleman who made it out was attempting to assist park rangers in the rescue or recovery of the second man, who was eventually recovered by the park rangers.”

According to Curry, the victim who made his way out of the water was taken by boat to the Coast Guard Station in Ocean City and later transported to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin. The second victim was recovered by the park rangers and was also transported to AGH where he was declared deceased, the victim of an apparent drowning.

The names of the deceased and the other passenger who made it to shore had not been released as of late yesterday.

According to Curry, the two men were conducting surveys offshore at the time the boat capsized in the heavy surf.

Sgt. Art Windemuth of the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) confirmed there was a death investigation related to the capsizing, but deferred further comment to the Coast Guard, which is the lead agency handling the investigation.

According to a reliable source, the vessel was a 24-foot runabout with a small cabin that was conducting survey work just off the coast of Assateague, likely in connection with the ongoing beach replenishment of the barrier island, and got too close to shore and overturned in the waves, which were a steady three to five feet all week.

The vessel foundered in the pounding surf on Assateague overnight and into Thursday morning. As of mid-day yesterday, salvage crews had turned the vessel hull-side up and had brought it to shore where it was being loaded onto a truck late yesterday afternoon.

The Coast Guard investigation is ongoing.