Accidents of the Week – May 20, 2023
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Missing Boater’s Body Recovered in Florida’s Parker Bayou
5/3/23 – Panama City, FL
The body of a boater who fell off his personal watercraft and went missing on 3 May was recovered on the night of 7 May.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said an off-duty officer found the man in Parker Bayou at about 7 p.m. The man was identified as Steven Chery, 23, of Panama City. Officials said the investigation into Chery’s death was ongoing.
Body of Missing Boater Found in New York’s Great South Bay
5/7/23 – Long Island, NY
The body of a 28-year-old boat racer in Long Island, New York, was found four days after he went missing.
James Jaronczyk went missing on the afternoon of 7 May after his 22-foot Progression speedboat crashed after hitting a wave while out on the Great South Bay. He fell into the water, explained local news reports.
According to local media, a witness saw Jaronczyk board the boat alone after leaving a waterside restaurant. The witness told investigators that Jaronczyk went out of sight after the crash.
Following the accident, the Suffolk County Underwater Rescue team, divers, the United States Coast Guard, and various other groups, including residents, volunteers, and members of the FDNY, began searching for Jaronczyk. By 8 May, searchers found some of his belongings in the water — including his sunglasses, in an area "not far from where his boat crashed," local news added.
In a Facebook post on 11 May, the village of Babylon Mayor Mary E. Adams explained that Jaronczyk's body was then "found in the location where rescue teams and divers were concentrating on, just west of the Village Pool."
South Carolina High School Student Dies in Tragic Boating Accident
5/5/23 – Kershaw Co., SC
A high school student in Kershaw, South Carolina, was remembered as a standout athlete, student, and friend, after losing his life in a tragic boating accident.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR), along with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), was investigating after a 15-year-old was killed in a boating accident on the Wateree River, on the night of 5 May.
Officials say that Chase Newman and some friends loaded his boat into the Wateree river at Patriots Landing to go fishing. Hours later, the group was hit by another boat, killing the 15-year-old.
Twelve Boats Catch Fire in California Marina
5/8/23 – Long Beach, CA
Twelve boats caught fire in the early hours of the morning on 8 May in the Alamitos Bay and Naples canals area of Long Beach, California. At least four boats sank.
Long Beach firefighters responded to a reported boat fire at the 100 block of Marina Drive at about 1:15 a.m. on 8 May. About 12 small boats were on fire, according to the Long Beach Fire Dept. The fires were extinguished by 1:40 a.m. Four or five boats sank.
The Duffy Electric Boats were part of a fleet available for rent to cruise the Alamitos Bay and Naples canals by the London Boat Rentals company. Each boat carries up to 12 passengers. Arson investigators were at the scene the following morning. A marina channel at the location remained open to boat traffic and no injuries were reported.
Missing Fisherman’s Body Found in New Hampshire Lake
5/9/23 – Strafford, NH
The body of a missing fisherman was recovered from New Hampshire’s Bow Lake.
Allan Schuh, of Plymouth, Massachusetts, disappeared on 9 May, and there were hopes that he might have made it to safety. But search crews said on the morning of 10 May that his body had been found near the shore of the lake. "It's just a sad way to start the season," said local boater Bob O'Brien.
Search crews had combed the waters of Bow Lake since Schuh’s disappearance and resumed the search the following morning. They said they were able to narrow down the search area after finding clues, including his jacket.
"We were in the likeliest areas, towing divers, and then later in the day, after towing the divers, we had our side-scan sonar out and began towing and looking for the subject that way," said Fish and Game Capt. Michael Eastman.
Schuh's body was discovered at about 10 a.m. on 10 May by the Fish and Game dive team. "There was an anomaly seen in the water," Eastman said. "We towed the dive team to that location, and it was confirmed that he was in the water."
Official stresses need to wear PFD
When Schuh's boat was discovered, it had fishing gear and a life jacket inside. Eastman said everyone heading out on the water should be wearing a life jacket because it can be difficult to get on during an emergency: "Putting a life jacket on in the water is very difficult," he said. "I've certainly done it, but it takes a lot of energy."
"You know, you have life preservers for everybody on the boat, but it's difficult for everybody to wear them all the time, but obviously, if they did, then things would be better," O'Brien said.
Fish and Game officials said that while everyone in a boat should wear a life preserver, they are required to be on children ages 12 and younger. They said this is also the time of year when there are more drownings because even though the air temperature is warm, the water temperatures are still very cold.
Boater Who Died in Rio Grande Near Taos Identified as Film Producer
5/6/23 – Taos, NM
The Taos County Sheriff’s Office identified a man who died while rafting on 6 May on the Rio Grande as David Bishop, 50, a film producer with Santa Fe ties who had been living in Española, New Mexico.
Bishop and two friends had begun their rafting trip on the river’s Racecourse stretch at Quartzite, just below Pilar, in a 10-foot raft, Taos County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Gregory Trujillo explained on 9 May.
Their boat capsized at Albert Falls, the first in a long series of rapids at the start of the course. Sgt. Trujillo said he learned from the other two men that all three of them had fallen out of the boat. While Bishop’s friends were able to swim to the banks, he was swept back into the middle of the river, the sergeant said.
A passing kayaker found Bishop floating face down about a mile below the falls, got him to shore but was unable to revive him, Trujillo said. The sheriff’s office responded after receiving a call from emergency dispatchers about kayaks floating upside down in the river. When they arrived, Trujillo said, they found first responders from the Dixon Volunteer Fire Department where already at the scene and had taken Bishop’s body up the steep embankment to N.M. 68.
While it’s likely Bishop drowned, Sgt. Trujillo said, it’s also possible he had a heart attack or some other “medical event” in the water. “People don’t realize the water is very high and it’s moving fast, and beyond that it’s freezing cold,” Trujillo said. “It’s snowmelt — that makes it really difficult to swim.” The three men were wearing life jackets, and Bishop’s was still on his body when he was removed from the river, Trujillo said.
Boater Seriously Hurt After Slamming into Fort Lauderdale Seawall
5/9/23 – Fort Lauderdale, FL
A boater was badly injured after slamming his 18-foot vessel into a seawall off the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale on 9 May, fire officials said.
Battalion Chief Garrett Pingol, a Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue spokesperson, said authorities responded to the area of Bayview Drive and Northeast 43rd Street, in the city’s Coral Ridge area, after the man slammed the boat into the wall “at speed.”
Authorities found him on the vessel, Pingol said, and took him to Broward Health Medical Center in serious condition as a trauma alert patient. Pingol said no one else was aboard at the time.
23-year-old Woman Dies After Boat Crash on Mississippi’s Jourdan River
4/30/23 – Hancock Co., MS
A 23-year-old woman died on 30 April from injuries she sustained in a boat crash on the Jourdan River, in Mississippi, Hancock County Coroner Jeff Hair told the local press.
Savannah Davis, 23, who lived in Poplarville but was from Gulfport, Mississippi, reportedly died at Ochsner Medical Center Hancock in Bay St. Louis due to blunt force trauma.
The boat that Davis and her girlfriend were on was struck by another vessel on the Jourdan River north of Interstate 10. The total number of people involved in the crash and the extent of their injuries remained unclear. Photos of the two boats involved in the crash reportedly circulated on social media on 30 April, and the local press reported that the crash remained under investigation by the state’s Department of Marine Resources.
Three Rescued After Boat Sinks in Georgia’s Savannah River
5/5/23 – Savannah, GA
Emergency officials told local news reporters that three people were rescued from Georgia’s Savannah River on 5 May after their boat overturned and sank. The incident happened shortly before 3 p.m. near the river’s Eastern Wharf.
Savannah Fire Battalion Chief Wayne Ifill told reporters that all three people on the boat had been recovered by the department’s Marine 2 vessel and taken to the dock, where they received attention from emergency medical personnel. Ifill added that it was still unclear what had caused the boat to take on water, but that all three passengers were expected to be okay.