Two drown in boating accident

Men's craft capsized near Riviera Beach

March 25, 2000|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Two Anne Arundel County men who lived on the water were found drowned yesterday in Nabbs Creek near Riviera Beach in the state's first fatal boating accident of the season.

The men disappeared in the creek after their 10-foot motorized boat -- made of compressed foam -- capsized during a pleasure ride about 6: 15 p.m. Thursday.

Police and county fire-rescue diving teams searched for the boaters for much of the night. The bodies were found about 8 a.m., said Susan O'Brien, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

The men, who shared a houseboat docked at a Glen Burnie marina, were identified as Bryan Williams, 28, and Kacey Wilder, 32.

"He loved the water," said Williams' father, Charles Williams, a Baltimore firefighter. "I've seen it all, but I never dreamt Well, you never think it will happen to your family."

Williams said his son usually wore a life jacket on the water, but the two men were not wearing safety devices when the boat capsized about a quarter of a mile from the marina.

Wilder couldn't swim, and Williams speculated that his son might have been trying to help him when they disappeared in the 45-degree water.

A man passing by in a 25-foot motorboat tried but was unable to rescue Williams and Wilder, O'Brien said. "He was leaning over trying to reach them," she said, "but he was by himself and couldn't get to them."

The passing boater and children who had been playing near the water called 911, she said.

A 13-year-old boy who had been videotaping his friends on skateboards captured the accident on videotape, which rescuers used to identify the search area.

"The video helped us figure out where they had capsized, so we knew right where to put the divers," said Battalion Chief John M. Scholz, a fire department spokesman.

It also helped rescuers confirm that two men were in the water, O'Brien said.

However, Williams and Wilder were not found during an intensive three-hour search by eight Natural Resources Police officers and the seven members of an Anne Arundel County fire and rescue department dive team Thursday night, authorities said.

"After about the first hour, we start losing hope that we'll be able to make a rescue," Scholz said.

Even after the divers suspended their efforts, Natural Resources Police continued to search from the water's surface until about 1 a.m. and resumed at dawn.

The tragedy should remind water enthusiasts of the need to use a flotation device, O'Brien said. "It's also important to remember that even though it's warm outside, the water is very frigid."

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