Two bodies pulled from water near Port Covington

Police said three fell from ship early Sunday morning; woman survived

(Smithsonian Environmental…)
December 23, 2013|By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

Police have yet to identify the bodies of two men who were pulled from the Patapsco River along with a woman who was hospitalized Sunday morning after they landed in the water after being aboard the Cape Washington, a research ship docked in South Baltimore.

Baltimore police said Monday that they are awaiting fingerprint analysis from the Medical Examiner's Office to identify the two fatal victims. Homicide detectives continue to investigate how the trio ended up in the water. Police spokesman Det. Brandon Echeverria said the woman has been cooperative with investigators.

Authorities received a 911 call before 6 a.m. Sunday reporting that several people fell off the Cape Washington, which is docked in the 300 block of E. Cromwell St. in Port Covington, according to Baltimore police.

A 24-year-old woman was found clinging to a pier near the ship, police said. She was treated at a hospital and released.

Multiple agencies converged on the area to search for the others who had fallen, a 24-year-old man and a 27-year-old man.

The first man's body was found at about 9 a.m. and the second man's body was found at about 11:30 a.m., said Petty Officer Jonathan Lindberg, a spokesman for the Coast Guard.

Lindberg said earlier Sunday that the three had jumped into the water to go swimming.

Officials have not released the swimmers' identities.

While the air temperature was warm, water temperature was only 42 degrees at the time the three went into the water, Lindberg said.

"It's very deceiving. It can be warm out, but the water can be very cold," he said.

Agencies involved in the search included the Baltimore Police marine unit, the Baltimore City Fire Department, the Coast Guard, the Maryland Natural Resources Police, a Maryland State Police helicopter team and a dive team from Anne Arundel County.

The Cape Washington is a 700-foot freighter that the federal government has loaned to the University of Maryland's Maritime Environmental Resource Center, which uses it to test systems for treating ballast water. Ballast water is used to balance the weight of ships and can be a conduit for invasive species to spread to new areas through shipping.

Authorities have not indicated how the individuals accessed the area.

Mario Tamburri, director of the Maritime Environmental Resource Center, which is based in Calvert County, said there's a manned security gate on the dock, although boaters have sometimes tied up to the dock illegally in the past. The ship itself is locked and requires security codes for access.

Baltimore Sun staff writer Justin George contributed to this report.

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