Quick Action Likely Saves Life After Boating Accident

OCEAN CITY — A Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) officer’s quick response to the second boating accident in the bay behind Ocean City in as many weeks likely helped save a man from bleeding to death.

Around 4 p.m. on Saturday, NRP officers responded to a reported boating accident in the Isle of Wight Bay. The investigation revealed a rental pontoon boat ran aground in the Isle of Wight Bay. When NRP officers arrived on scene, seven people were in the water, including an unidentified man who was bleeding profusely from a gash on his arm created by the boat’s propeller and another passenger who was hanging onto a moving boat.

An NRP officer recognized the victim’s wound as a severed artery and applied a Combat Application Tourniquet to staunch the flow of blood until the victim could be taken to shore. Ocean City first-responders then took the victim from Bahia Marina to Atlantic General Hospital for treatment. The operator of the boat, identified as Seth Murray Wilson, 21, of Millsboro, Del., was arrested after failing field sobriety tests and refusing a breathalyzer test.

Saturday’s boating accident involving a rented pontoon was the second in as many weeks. On Saturday, July 30, a New Jersey woman was standing on the bow of a rented pontoon boat underway when the vessel hit a wake and she tumbled overboard. The victim was struck by the boat’s propeller and suffered severe injuries to her face and leg before she was rescued by another passenger.

According to the NRP, the victim was not wearing a life jacket and could not swim. She was taken first to PRMC in Salisbury and later transferred to Penn Hospital in New Jersey for specialized treatment. Her condition has not been updated. In that case, the rented boat’s operator was also charged with negligent operation of the vessel.

After two serious accidents involving rented pontoon boats in as many weeks, it remains uncertain if the operators had the requisite training, but state law is clear on the requirements. According to the state code, a rented boat owner or employee may not rent a vessel born after July 1, 1972 unless the operator possesses a safe boating certificate.

The renting company must keep a record of each vessel rented, showing the Maryland registration number along with the horsepower of the motor. The record must list the name and address of the operator at the time of departure along with an emergency contact number. In addition, the record must include a time of departure and an expected time of return.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.