Search to con­tinue for fourth fish­er­man af­ter cap­siz­ing on Po­tomac

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Car­rie Wells Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Tim Pru­dente con­tributed to this ar­ti­cle. cwells@balt­

Two men were found dead, one was res­cued and another was still miss­ing Sun­day, a day af­ter a fish­ing boat cap­sized on the Po­tomac River.

Two men were found dead, one was res­cued and another was still miss­ing Sun­day, a day af­ter a fish­ing boat cap­sized on the Po­tomac River amid choppy wa­ters stirred by winds as high as 54 miles per hour.

Gusts top­pled trees, flipped traf­fic lights and caused wide­spread power out­ages in the Bal­ti­more area. Oc­cu­pants of at least two other boats — one near Fort Howard in Edge­mere and the other on the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay — had to be res­cued over the week­end.

It’s not yet known what led the 30-foot power­boat to cap­size Sat­ur­day on the Po­tomac near St. Mary’s County.

A spokes­woman for the Mary­land Nat­u­ral Re­sources Po­lice said the mild weather wors­ened quickly as the wind picked up, mak­ing res­cue ef­forts dif­fi­cult. If a fourth fish­er­man Nat­u­ral Re­sources Po­lice are still search­ing for is found dead, spokes­woman Candy Thom­son said, it would be the dead­li­est sin­gle boat­ing in­ci­dent in Mary­land this year. Po­lice planned to re­sume their search this morn­ing.

“Con­di­tions were ab­so­lutely hor­ri­ble,” Thom­son said. “Three-foot seas, gusts to 45 miles an hour. And of course it’s pitch-black.”

One of the four men on the fish­ing boat texted his wife around 4 p.m. that the group was re­turn­ing to Combs Creek Ma­rina in St. Mary’s County. Po­lice and the Coast Guard picked up a may­day call around 5 p.m., Thom­son said.

Nat­u­ral Re­sources Po­lice, Coast Guard, state po­lice and per­son­nel from nearby Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent River searched for the men un­til about 3 a.m. Sun­day, then re­sumed the search at dawn.

The sur­vivor was spot­ted cling­ing to the hull of the boat by a he­li­copter. The bod­ies of the two vic­tims were found later Sun­day morn­ing.

Po­lice iden­ti­fied the sur­vivor as Ja­son Down­ing, 39, of Me­chan­icsville. They said he was taken to MedS­tar St. Mary’s Hos­pi­tal, where his con­di­tion was not known.

The two vic­tims were iden­ti­fied as Gre­gory Moore, 55, of Me­chan­icsville, the owner of the boat; and Wil­liam Ede­len Jr., 48, of White Plains.

Nat­u­ral Re­sources Po­lice and the Coast Guard were still search­ing wa­ters south of Bre­ton Bay for Roger Gris­som, 52, of Hugh­esville.

The men were par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 24th an­nual Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Fall Clas­sic fish­ing tour­na­ment when their boat cap­sized. Tour­na­ment or­ga­niz­ers called off the last day of the event Sun­day be­cause of the weather. The or­ga­niz­ers could not be reached for com­ment.

Thom­son said Nat­u­ral Re­sources Po­lice will in­ves­ti­gate whether the fish­ing boat had any me­chan­i­cal prob­lems be­fore it cap­sized. But she said the high winds that picked up in a short pe­riod of a time were “dif­fi­cult con­di­tions for any boater.”

Six­teen peo­ple have died in boat­ing in­ci­dents in Mary­land this year. The pace is down from 21 last year, a 20-year high.

There were at least two other wa­ter res­cues over the week­end. A sport­fish­ing boat res­cued a man in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay on Sat­ur­day af­ter his sail­boat cap­sized, ac­cord­ing to Nat­u­ral Re­sources Po­lice. Bal­ti­more County fire­fight­ers res­cued two peo­ple Sun­day from a sail­boat that ran aground near Fort Howard in Edge­mere, fire of­fi­cials said.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice re­ported gusts around the Bal­ti­more area Sun­day of more than 45 miles per hour, in­clud­ing a 54-mph gust in Anne Arun­del County near Bal­ti­more-Wash­ing­ton In­ter­na­tional Thur­good Mar­shall Air­port.

The weather ser­vice is­sued a gale warn­ing for Mary­land wa­ters and a fire watch for Cen­tral and South­ern Mary­land and North­ern Vir­ginia. The watch means fires could spread quickly un­der the weather con­di­tions.

A storm in the North­east­ern United States and high pres­sure over Michi­gan have com­bined to cause the high winds, weather ser­vice me­terol­o­gist Kevin Whitt said. He said the gusts likely won’t calm down un­til Tues­day night.

“It isn’t un­til we get into Tues­day night, Wed­nes­day that the high pres­sure in Michi­gan works its way into our area,” caus­ing the winds to calm, he said.

Fire­fight­ers put out at least two brush fires in the area Sun­day, in­clud­ing one near the Bel Air By­pass and one in the 3800 block of Manor Lane in El­li­cott City.

Thou­sands in the Bal­ti­more area lost power Sun­day. At 11 p.m., Bal­ti­more Gas and Elec­tric crews had re­stored power to more than 9,800 in Bal­ti­more, 10,700 in Bal­ti­more County, 3,200 in Har­ford County and 2,000 in Anne Arun­del.

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