Two dead after boat overturns
Survivor found on hull hospitalized; fourth man remains missing in Potomac River
Two Southern Maryland men died, a Mechanicsville man was rescued after an over- night search, and a fourth passenger from their boat remained missing this week amid high winds and waves in the lower Potomac River.
The group was less than 15 minutes away from shore south of Leonardtown late Saturday afternoon,
according to Maryland Natural Resources Police, when a text message that the group was coming home was followed by a mayday call for help. Two hours after the U.S. Coast Guard and a Maryland State Police helicopter crew began their search, a dispatch report states, a call to 911 in St. Mary’s that night prompted the county’s volunteer firefighters to also launch their rescue rafts and boats.
The bodies of 55-yearold Mechanicsville resident Gregory Moore, the boat’s owner, and William Edelen Jr., 48, of White Plains were found at about 9 a.m. Sunday, off White Point Beach, authorities report, not far from where 39-yearold Jason Eric Downing was located on the over- turned hull of the 32-foot Reel Intimidator boat. The Coast Guard report- ed at daylight’s end that a 279-square-mile search by boat and from the air for 52-year-old Roger Grissom of Hughesville had been suspended.
The group had left Combs Creek Marina in Compton to participate on Saturday in the 24th annual Chesapeake Bay Fall Fishing Classic, a natural resources police spokesperson said.
“At 4 p.m., one of the men texted his wife that they were coming back in,” Candy Thomson, the state agency spokesper- son said, and a mayday ra- dio signal came from the vessel about an hour later. Coast Guard crews from St. Inigoes launched a response boat, and a Coast Guard helicopter crew from North Carolina also took off, a release states, along with assistance by Maryland State Police.
“They didn’t have much to go on,” Thomson said, to respond to the call of a boat taking on water. “The initial effort didn’t turn up anything,” she said.
The wives of the men reported at 8 p.m. that they were past due getting home, Thomson said, and a county dispatch log states that call led to the further response by the state wildlife officers, Patuxent River Naval Air Station and St. Mar y’s fire and rescue volunteers.
At about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the Coast Guard reports, its helicopter crew spotted the overturned boat, off shore of White Point Beach, with someone on top of the hull. Downing was flown to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, and he was admitted for treatment from his overnight exposure to the rough seas and cold water.
Capt. Brian Rathgeb of the state agency said Sunday afternoon at a press conference in Piney Point that all four men on the boat had been wearing life jackets, and that Downing was alert and talking to investigators.
Unseasonably warm and calm weather abruptly ended Saturday afternoon throughout most of Maryland, including on the river.
“Conditions were just ghastly,” Thomson said, as well for the searchers, who dealt with 40 mph wind gusts, threefoot seas and water temperatures in the 50s. She noted the missing boat’s proximity to shore when the calls for help began.
“They were so close,” she said, “so close.”
The three-day tournament is sponsored by the Maryland Saltwater Sport Fishing Association, the natural resource police spokesperson said.
Capt. Brian Rathgeb of the Maryland Natural Resources Police briefs reporters in Piney Point on Saturday’s fatal boating accident.