Rescuers search in vain for boy lost in boat accident

April 17, 1995|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Staff Writer

Police and volunteers searched in vain yesterday for a 6-year-old Bel Air boy lost off Tilghman Island after a canoeing accident Saturday in which his 10-year-old sister died.

Nancy Howard, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Natural Resources Police, said searchers had not found Samuel Thompson, despite combing the southern tip of the island by air and water, using divers and trained dogs.

Natural Resources Police Sgt. George Ball said investigators had determined weather caused the accident.

"The current got them and carried them out," he said. "It happened real fast."

Samuel and his sister, Jennifer Thompson, had been visiting the Tilghman Island home of their grandmother with their uncle, Paul J. Weber of Reisterstown. Mr. Weber, a 37-year-old attorney, told police he and the children went out on the Choptank River about 11:30 a.m. Saturday in a red aluminum canoe.

The canoe capsized about half an hour later, Mr. Weber told police, and he could not hold on to the children. A Kent Narrows towboat crew found Jennifer's body about five hours later. She was pronounced dead at Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she had been flown by police helicopter.

A life jacket believed to be Samuel's was found Saturday, leading investigators to wonder whether it had been the wrong size, allowing him to slip out, officials said.

Mr. Weber was upgraded to stable yesterday at Easton Memorial Hospital, a nursing supervisor said. Two boaters, a father and son, found Mr. Weber about 5 p.m. Saturday. They said he told them the weather had been fine when he set out with Jennifer and Samuel.

"First of all, he told me he had a couple children with him. He said he was in a canoe, which I couldn't believe," said Charles T. Luskey, a Washington, D.C., steamfitter who was boating with his father. "He was very despondent. He thought the boy had gone under. He knew he was gone."

The search was suspended last night about 8:30. It was to resume again this morning, police said.

Sergeant Ball said he had not given up. "There's always hope," he said.

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