Marylanders celebrate chilly but safe holiday

May 26, 1992|By David Michael Ettlin and Greg Tasker | David Michael Ettlin and Greg Tasker,Staff Writers

After the safest and coolest Memorial Day in recent years, many Marylanders started home from beach resorts yesterday to find some -- but not all -- of the traditional highway bottlenecks awaiting them.

The most dangerous place yesterday was the water, with the Maryland Natural Resources Police reporting two drownings.

Fidel Salmeron, 19, of Hyattsville fell into the Potomac River and disappeared while fishing with family members near Offutt Island in Montgomery County. A search for his body resumed this morning.

On the Eastern Shore, police found the body of Loretta Larrimore, 40, of Centreville, who drowned in the Choptank River near Bruceville after swimming away from a pier where she had been fishing.

In Ocean City, sunshine and temperatures peaking in the low 90s greeted holiday crowds whose idea of a traditional Memorial Day weekend -- the official opening of the summer season -- may be beach umbrellas, bikinis and boardwalk.

But after two beautiful days, the holiday weather took a Jekyll-and-Hyde turn.

Sunday night brought rain and temperatures dropping into the 50s. The unseasonably cool weather continued yesterday.

It sent the crowds packing early.

Ocean City's beaches were deserted yesterday, although the Beach Patrol continued to man lifeguard stands along the 10-mile shoreline -- in case anyone was bold enough to venture into the chilly surf.

"It's dead," said Rick Smith, rides manager of Pier Rides, off the Boardwalk at Wicomico Street, where business fell off about 8 p.m. Sunday with the storms' arrival.

"There's been a few stragglers on the Boardwalk, but that's about it."

Resort officials expected 300,000 visitors during the weekend.

Police said two people killed in traffic accidents Saturday were the only highway deaths reported in Maryland, making this Memorial Day weekend the safest in recent years.

Last year's holiday was marred by seven traffic deaths and five drownings.

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