Fatal Personal Watercraft Collision Over Weekend

OCEAN CITY — A Silver Spring, Md. man lost his life in a jet ski collision near Assateague on Monday.

Around 3:15 p.m. last Sunday, Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) officers responded to the area of the Sinepuxent Bay north of the Assateague State Park Marina for a reported personal watercraft collision. According to police reports, two jet skis were traveling at a high rate of speed when the vessels suddenly collided.

The victim, identified as Derek Salas, 20, of Silver Spring, became airborne along with his jet ski because of the force of the collision. Salas was removed from the water breathing, but unconscious, according to police reports.

The victim was transported by an NRP patrol vessel to the Assateague State Park marina, where he received further treatment by Berlin EMS. However, he succumbed to his injuries shortly after being transported to shore. According to the NRP, the investigation into the collision is ongoing.

With the passage of Memorial Day and the arrival of the summer season, the NRP is reminding all anglers, boaters and swimmers to take proper precautions on the state’s waterways, including in and around the coastal bays.

In 2021, there were 145 reportable boating accidents in Maryland, including 51 that caused injuries and six that were fatal. Those numbers were down slightly from 2020 when there were 155 reportable boating accidents, 64 injuries and six fatalities.

Despite the modest decline in the numbers, the NRP is urging all who enter the waterways in any shape or form to practice safe boating. The NRP is dedicated to educating and protecting Marylanders on the water, but boaters and personal watercraft users are urged to practice waterway safety and always wear an approved life preserver, which greatly reduces the risk of a boating fatality. The NRP also advised this week it will be out in force on the state’s waterways and will issue citations for unsafe, negligent and impaired boating.

“Safety is our number-one priority and officers will be out in full force, but accidents sometimes happen more quickly than our officers can respond,” said NRP Superintendent Colonel Adrian Baker. “We encourage Marylanders to take the proper precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones from the unpredictable. Take the extra step to ensure your and your family’s safety by taking a boating safety course, getting your vessel inspected, and operating sober.”

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.