Illegal swim results in death Newcomer to area drowns near shore of Duckett Reservoir

August 14, 1998|By Jamal E. Watson and Del Quentin Wilber | Jamal E. Watson and Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Nancy Youssef contributed to this article.

A 47-year-old North Laurel man fishing at the T. Howard Duckett Reservoir drowned about 15 feet from shore yesterday afternoon after deciding to take a swim, authorities said.

Tony Joe Teasley of the 9500 block of Howard Ave. was a father of two who had recently moved to the area from Florida, family members said.

He was fishing -- one of his true enjoyments -- with a friend near Scotts Cove about 1: 30 p.m., said Capt. Chris Schimer, spokesman for the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services.

It's illegal to swim in the reservoir, but Teasley tried to swim across an inlet, authorities said. His friend saw Teasley go under, made an unsuccessful rescue attempt and called 911, authorities said.

Howard County firefighters arrived and called in divers who recovered the body from the water about 2: 20 p.m.

Teasley was pronounced dead at the scene.

Teasley's brother, Jack, recalled a man who loved the outdoors.

After growing up in Virginia, Teasley became a plumber and mechanic, his brother said. He moved to Silver Spring and worked for the State Highway Administration, Jack Teasley said.

Two years ago, Teasley moved to Florida with another brother but returned to Maryland this summer after his mother suffered a stroke. The 47-year-old, who has two teen-age children in North Carolina, hoped to rejoin the SHA and was working at a carwash.

His first swim in reservoir

Jack Teasley said his brother loved fishing but had never swum in the reservoir. The other night, the brothers stayed up late working on a motorcycle engine, he recalled. "That's the last time I saw him. We were planning on getting some parts this week," he said.

'Really a sad day'

News of the drowning quickly spread throughout the quiet North Laurel community surrounding the reservoir.

"This is really a sad day," said Frances Whitehead, 69, who was walking her dog near the reservoir after the body was pulled from the water. "I don't understand why he went swimming. It is not allowed."

Warning signs

Marjorie Johnson, spokeswoman for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which oversees the reservoir, said swimming or wading is illegal primarily because the reservoir provides drinking water to 1.5 million residents.

Johnson said signs are posted throughout the area informing visitors of the policy.

But some visitors who frequent the reservoir say the signs aren't visible enough.

"There needs to be more signs," said Penny Watkins, 45, of Columbia, who takes her four children to the reservoir to fish. "If there were more visible signs posted, I think it could help prevent something like this from happening again."

Since 1995, five people have drowned in the reservoir, including two who committed suicide, Johnson said.

Fishermen who regularly visit the site say that people usually follow the rules.

Area patrolled

Carlos Bueso, 31, of Burtonsville said that authorities usually patrol to ensure that rules are followed.

"One of the reasons why I like coming out here is because it is heavily patrolled. I haven't encountered any problems at all," Bueso said.

Pub Date: 8/14/98

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