1 survives, another dies in capsizing

May 18, 1994|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Sun Staff Writer

An Edgewater man swam to safety but his shipmate on an evening fishing trip died, after their boat capsized south of Kent Island Monday night, a Coast Guard spokesman said yesterday.

Robert Lamb, 29, swam for several hours before reaching a lighthouse at Bloody Point, then turning for the shore at Kent Point, a distance of about 1.3 miles, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Robin Ressler, a Coast Guard spokesman. Mr. Lamb called for help from a home on the shore.

Around 10:15 a.m. yesterday, Natural Resources Police found the body of Jeff Clark, 28, of Mermaid Drive, Annapolis, in the Chesapeake Bay about 5 1/2 miles south of Kent Island.

Mr. Clark's body was taken to Eastern Memorial Hospital. The cause of death was not known, nor was it determined whether Mr. Clark's body would go to the medical examiner's office in Baltimore or remain in Talbot County, said Nancy Howard, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Police.

Petty Officer Ressler said the two men left Harness Creek on South River about 5:30 p.m. Monday to go fishing in a 17-foot Wellcraft. They were supposed to return around 9 p.m., he said. Someone close to one of the men called the Coast Guard at about 11:50 p.m. Monday and reported them missing.

By that time, according to Petty Officer Ressler, the boat had been capsized more than four hours. What caused it to capsize at 7:30 p.m. is not clear. Ms. Howard of the Natural Resources Police said winds on the bay were blowing at 25 mph to 30 mph at the time.

"Those kinds of weather conditions with that small a boat could lead it to capsize," she said.

Despite the rough conditions, Mr. Lamb made it to Bloody Point but couldn't climb up to the lighthouse. He continued on to shore and landed at Kent Point around 1:50 a.m. yesterday. "He said that his vessel had capsized and that his friend was still out there," Petty Officer Ressler said of the call Mr. Lamb made from a home near the shore.

Mr. Lamb was treated at a nearby hospital and released, Ms. Howard said.

Coast Guard units searched a 120-square-mile area but could not find Mr. Clark's body. They then contacted Natural Resources Police at 2:30 a.m. A Coast Guard helicopter spotted the body yesterday morning and guided a Natural Resources Police boat to it. The capsized boat was found about a mile from Mr. Clark's body and was later brought to shore, Petty Officer Ressler said.

Mr. Clark's life jacket was not on properly when he was found, Ms. Howard said.

"The waist strap was around his waist but the flotation device was not slipped up over his head," she said, adding that the rough weather conditions could account for how the jacket was worn.

Whatever the reason, a functioning life jacket could have saved Mr. Clark's life, Petty Officer Ressler said.

"A life jacket, when properly worn, keeps your head out of the water," he said. "When your head is out of the water the body cools slower. The water temperature was 60 degrees, enough to cause hypothermia."

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