Ellicott City man killed, wife hurt, in boat accident

June 13, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

An Ellicott City man was killed and his wife was in critical condition after a weekend boating accident on a fishing trip in Missouri.

Robert J. Kopytko, 47, a retired federal government worker who lived in the 8500 block of Autumn Harvest, was declared dead at the scene of the accident Saturday afternoon at Table Rock Lake in southwestern Missouri.

His wife, Phyllis L. Kopytko, 38, a project manager for a defense contractor in Crystal City, Va., was being treated for broken bones and cuts at St. John's Hospital and Shock Trauma Center in Springfield.

The guide-operator of the 18-foot bass-fishing boat, Paul M. Brundridge, 58, of Blue Eye, Mo., died at the hospital yesterday, a Missouri State Water Patrol spokeswoman said.

"They were on vacation, a long-needed vacation. They took a fishing trip," said Mrs. Kopytko's sister, Janet Smoll of Ellicott City.

The couple, who were married about 18 years and had no children, had been visiting relatives in Missouri.

They rented a honeymoon suite at Table Rock Lake, a large recreation area, according to the family.

The accident occurred about 2:45 p.m. Saturday when the boat made a sharp turn and dumped the Kopytkos and Mr. Brundridge into the water, then circled around and struck them with its propeller, authorities said.

Water Patrol Sgt. Pat Byrne said an investigation into why the operator lost control of the boat is continuing, but he suspected that the fishing guide swerved to avoid a wake or a wave.

They were not wearing life jackets, but Sergeant Byrne said Missouri does not require life jackets for boaters over age 7.

The Kopytkos themselves owned a boat and often enjoyed freshwater fishing near home, family members and friends said yesterday.

Mr. Kopytko had health problems and retired on disability nearly 10 years ago, said Marcia Kopytko, his sister-in-law in Medford, N.J.

Word of the accident stunned the Kopytkos' Ellicott City neighbors.

"Everybody on the street is pretty shaken up by it," said Stephen M. Wolniak, who lives on Autumn Harvest. "He was a hell of a nice guy. They were really nice neighbors and really nice people.

"They were supposed to be back [Saturday] but they decided to spend an extra day because they were having so much fun," Mr. Wolniak said.

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