Police recover body of victim in boat accident

July 08, 1991|By Keith Paul

State Natural Resources Police searching the Rhode River in south Anne Arundel County yesterday found the body of a New Carrollton man who jumped or fell into the water Saturday afternoon after he rescued three members of his family.

Their powerboat hit two big waves caused by a wake from another boat and sank. All eight people on the boat were knocked overboard.

Michael W. Caldwell Sr., 29, had rescued one of his children, his sister and a nephew from the river and was on board another boat before entering the water again. He disappeared from view about 250 yards from shore, in water 12 to 15 feet deep.

Police said they did not know why Mr. Caldwell went back into the water. He might have fallen or jumped in, Cpl. Ralph Parker, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Police, said.

The police found Mr. Caldwell's body at 10:05 a.m. yesterday near the accident site. They had called off the search Saturday night because of darkness.

The wake filled the 17-foot open boat with water, sinking it at about 3:50 p.m., Corporal Parker said. Mr. Caldwell was reported missing at 4 p.m.

William S. Fuoco, 40, of Greenbelt, said two 4-foot waves from the wake hit the boat.

Judy M. Caldwell, 27, the victim's wife, was driving the boat and veered away from the waves when she saw them, Mr. Fuoco said.

"If we went into the wave, the water wouldn't have come in the boat, but she didn't know that," said Mr. Fuoco, who said he has been boating for eight years. "Everything happened so fast and the waves scared her. If you saw waves like that you'd veer away, too."

He added that this was the first year that the Caldwells have been boating.

Other boaters in the area helped rescue the people from the sunken craft. Rescued were: Mrs. Caldwell; two of the Caldwells' children, Michael Jr., 10, and Julie, 9; Mr. Caldwell's sister, Linda Hough, 32, and nephew, Charles E. Hardin, 15, both of Landover; and Mr. Fuoco and his daughter Nicole, 11, of Landover.

Ms. Hough, who was knocked unconscious, was flown to the Washington Hospital Center with cuts on her left leg caused by the boat's propellers. She was in the hospital last night in stable condition. None of the others was hurt.

The boaters in the sunken craft were not wearing life jackets at the time of the accident, officials said. Maryland law requires that life jackets be on a boat, but boaters are not required to wear them on most of the state's waters, said Sgt. J. Tugwell, a Natural Resources Police supervisor.

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