Baltimore man, 49, found dead on N.C. coast Sailor left Va. Tuesday

boat washed ashore Friday

February 16, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

The body of a Baltimore man, last seen on his boat as it sailed from Norfolk, Va., on Tuesday, was found washed ashore yesterday morning on the North Carolina coast three miles south of the Virginia border, the Coast Guard said, a day after his vessel washed ashore on North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Richard Meo, 49, who lived on his sailboat in Fells Point, was sailing his 28-foot sloop from Baltimore to the Virgin Islands, said his lifelong friend, Jed Kirschbaum of Baltimore.

After Meo's boat, the Daisy, was found beached with a broken mast and a dinghy tied off the stern late Friday morning about a mile south of Corolla, N.C., the Coast Guard launched a 100-square-mile search for Meo using low-flying aircraft.

His body was discovered yesterday at 7 a.m., 10 miles north of where the boat was found.

"The accident could have happened any time from the time he left Norfolk," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Stephen Baker. "We really don't want to speculate on the cause, because we don't know."

Meo was not wearing a life jacket or survival suit, authorities said. The Coast Guard said the water was 43 degrees, a temperature in which a person could survive for about 3 1/2 hours.

It could not be determined whether Meo drowned or died of hypothermia, said Dr. James Owens, the Currituck County, N.C., medical examiner. He said Meo's death has been ruled an accident, because it appears that he "washed overboard, since there are no external injuries." No autopsy will be performed, he said.

On Thursday night, the National Weather Service issued a small-craft advisory for the North Carolina-Virginia coast. The Coast Guard described the surf as "rough" in the search vicinity, with 3- to 5-foot waves Friday.

Meo was described by friends as a "free spirit" and a seagoing loner who loved adventure. Before moving to Baltimore 1 1/2 years ago, he sailed to Key West, Fla., from Delaware, where he had lived and owned a small beachfront business, friends said. In Baltimore, he did odd jobs to support himself.

Kirschbaum sailed with Meo for part of his trip south and tried to persuade Meo to stay in Norfolk until better weather was forecast. Kirschbaum, a photographer for The Sun, and Meo had been friends since going to grade school together in Connecticut. Meo, a 1970 graduate of George Washington University, is survived by two sisters, Faith and Hope Meo, and three nieces, all of Wolcott, Conn. He will be cremated today, family members said.

Pub Date: 2/16/97

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