Robert C. and Penny Chatterton met at a yacht club as kids and spent much of their lives on the water until thunderstorms brought lightning that ended those lives Sunday as they sought refuge in a cove off Chesapeake Bay.
Mr. Chatterton, 54, and his 51-year-old wife were struck Sunday afternoon as they huddled under a canvas boat cover, amid 8-foot reeds on marshy ground about 20 feet from their 16-foot powerboat in Hawthorne Cove on Carroll Island in southeast Baltimore County, marine police said.
Experienced boaters, they had run for the cove for protection as storms packing 60 mph winds and 8-foot waves crashed into the area shortly after 2 p.m.
"They didn't do anything wrong. I would've done the same
thing," said Officer George W. Carter of the Baltimore County Police marine unit. "They would've been exposed in the boat, too."
Police said the Chattertons just happened to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and did the best they could under the circumstances.
"In this case, their number was called. I don't know how else to put it. It's a freaky type thing to have happened," said Cpl. Michael Bolewicki, also of the police marine unit.
The family owned numerous boats over the years, friends said. ** NTC They were a fixture on the water around Bowleys Quarters going back to 1978, when they moved to their waterfront house in the 1300 block of Goose Neck Road, according to family and friends.
"They were really good people," said Beth Wolff, one of their neighbors. "They were generous with their tools, they'd help you shovel snow in the winter, or whatever you needed."
Before moving to Bowleys Quarters, the Chattertons lived in Kingsville, where Mr. Chatterton grew up. Mrs. Chatterton was reared in Stoneleigh.
They met as youngsters at the Baltimore Yacht Club on Sue Island, where both their parents were members, said Scott Chatterton, 30, one of two sons.
"They grew up on the water," he added.
Mr. Chatterton and his wife operated the Middlesex Exxon Service Center in the 1000 block of Eastern Avenue.
Both spent their weekends and free time fishing on the bay and its tributaries.
"It's strange to think of it happening to two people who have
been on the water since they were kids," said Frank "Bud" Fisher, a family friend from the yacht club years.
Services are being arranged at the James J. Bruzdzinski Funeral Home in the 1400 block of Old Eastern Avenue, Essex.
Along with Scott, the couple is survived by another son, Jeff Chatterton, both of Bowleys Quarters, and a grandson.
Mr. Chatterton also is survived by a sister, Ruth Stephens of Kingsville, and two nephews.
Mrs. Chatteron is survived by her father, Clarence Gischel of Baldwin; a sister, LuVerne Dale of Bethesda; and two nephews.