NEW FOR THURSDAY: Capsized Boat Returned To Shore Today; Good Samaritan Captain Details Rescue, Recovery Effort Off Coast
OCEAN CITY — Tragedy struck this week as two people died and two others were rescued after their 26-foot twin-hulled sportfishing vessel capsized about 32 miles off the coast of Ocean City on the first day of the 40th Annual White Marlin Open.
Around 9 a.m. on Monday, the sportfishing boat “Just Right V,” which was competing in the White Marlin Open, came across a capsized 26-foot, twin-hulled Glacier Bay sportfishing vessel, which was not registered in the tournament.
The “Just Right V” crew and Captain Ken Gray rescued two unidentified males, both age 55, who were responsive and had survived the capsizing. However, two other individuals, 57-year-old Fredy Fabricio-Castro, of Silver Spring, and William Gogel, also 57, of Baltimore, were still missing.
Another White Marlin Open boat, the “Lori M,” received a mayday call over the radio on VHF from the “Just Right V,” and relayed the information to Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads and Coast Guard Ocean City. Captain Jack Boender of the “Lori M” said this week the “Just Right V” was not able to reach anyone else over VHF radio and when he received the distress call, he radioed the appropriate Coast Guard agencies and proceeded to the scene.
“I was fishing in the White Marlin Open and I received a call on the VHF from the ‘Just Right V’,” he said. “Captain Ken Gray advised me he was at a capsized catamaran and had retrieved two passengers from the water and two others were still missing. He could not reach anybody else by VHF.
Boender said this week he quickly radioed the information to the Coast Guard and started to head toward the coordinates provided by the “Just Right V.”
“I then determined from his coordinates his location and made way to him,” he said. “We searched the area for the other survivors and found nothing but a floating cooler.”
Boender said the Coast Guard advised they were sending a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City with an estimated arrival time of 30 minutes. Coast Guard Station Ocean City also responded and said it was sending a 47-foot motor life boat with an estimated time of arrival of two hours, due to heavy seas.
Boender and his “Lori M” crew, along with Gray and the crew on the “Just Right V” remained on the scene until the Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew arrived.
“Both Ken Gray and I stayed on the location,” said Boender this week. “When the helicopter arrived, they put a diver into the water to check and see of the others were still under the capsized hull. There, they found the bodies of the two missing. We assisted in the retrieval of the bodies.”
The MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City put a rescue diver into the water and recovered Fabricio-Castro and Gogel. With the help of a crewmember on the “Lori M,” the Coast Guard was able to put Fabricio-Castro on the “Just Right V” and Gogel on the “Lori M.” The victims were unresponsive and could not be revived.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members and loved ones of those recovered this morning,” said Capt. John Little, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads. “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the Good Samaritans who acted quickly to report this and assist the Coast Guard in this rescue.”
By late Monday afternoon, the “Lori M” and the “Just Right V,” each with one victim on board, were escorted by the Coast Guard 47-foot motor life boat into the Indian River Inlet, from whence the unidentified 26-foot twin-hulled, twin outboard catamaran-style fishing vessel had hailed that morning. At Coast Guard Station Indian River Inlet late Monday, the medical examiner’s office took possession of the victims.
By around 3:30 p.m. on Monday, the “Lori M” and “Just Right V” crews had given their statements of their involvement in the incident. Although it is insignificant in light of the tragedy, the two Good Samaritan boats were granted a lay day by White Marlin Open officials for Monday of the tournament and both were back out on the ocean on Tuesday.
Because of the nature of the incident involving two deaths, the capsized vessel was not immediately recovered.
Captain Greg Hall of Tow Boat US out of West Ocean City said late Wednesday he had a crew out in the general area after receiving permission to recover the vessel on Wednesday morning. By Wednesday evening, Hall’s Tow Boat US crew had located the capsized vessel and began the arduous task of towing it to shore.
Because of rough seas, the recovery crew could only make about two knots while towing the capsized vessel, and at nearly 30 miles offshore, the task would take all night. Around 9 a.m. on Thursday, the Tow Boat US crew pulled the capsized vessel through the Inlet and into the commercial harbor in West Ocean City. However, the difficult task was not yet completed.
Because the vessel was still capsized, Hall and his crew had to right it before lifting it onto a waiting barge where investigators will attempt to determine what happened. A diver attached floats to the vessel and secured lines to it underwater and another tow boat and a back hoe on the barge rolled the boat right side up. It was righted and brought alongside and then elevated onto the barge.