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Another weekend tragedy !! (UPDATED)

Old 07-08-2002, 11:33 AM
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Default Another weekend tragedy !! (UPDATED)

Here's one that happened up in my neck of the woods. Alcohol again seems to be the culprit. When will people learn......

Martha's Vineyard boating death

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Old 07-08-2002, 11:35 AM
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Old 07-08-2002, 11:49 AM
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Here's the story for those who cannot access the website:

Author(s): Peter DeMarco, Globe Correspondent Date: July 7, 2002 Page: B7 Section: Metro/Region

Officials continuing to investigate the boating accident that killed a Quincy real estate broker say that at least one of three propellers on a luxury power boat was spinning in reverse as William Sanderson attempted to reboard the craft.

The reverse spin of the propeller, driven by a 500-horsepower engine, would have created a powerful undertow that could have sucked Sanderson, 62, under the boat as he tried to mount a boarding ladder, authorities said yesterday. Sanderson had been helping passengers disembark the 47-foot boat of his longtime friend, Quincy developer William S. O'Connell, at Chappy Point Beach in Edgartown Harbor during a Fourth of July outing on Martha's Vineyard. It remains unclear whether Sanderson was aware that the propeller was turning. Sanderson was apparently moving toward the back of the craft to access a ladder and diving platform located directly above the powerful propellers when he was pulled under, authorities said.

O'Connell, who was operating the boat, drove away from the scene not more than 15 minutes after Sanderson's badly lacerated body was pulled from the water by the boat's passengers and by Assistant Harbormaster Michael Hathaway, who witnessed accident.

As authorities brought Sanderson to shore, O'Connell, 62, sped to a dock at Oak Bluffs, 7 miles away. A police boat with lights flashing pursued O'Connell at a distance. The developer was arrested by authorities waiting for him at the dock in Oak Bluffs.

"I guess I was in shock," O'Connell told the Patriot Ledger. "I didn't know what to do. There was no place to dock."

O'Connell was initially charged with fleeing the scene of the accident, but the charge was dropped by the Cape and Islands district attorney's office

Sergeant Bill Searle of the Massachusetts Environmental Police, who assisted in the arrest, said it's a boat operator's responsibility to remain at an accident scene or follow authorities to provide information about what took place. Public docks were available in Edgartown Harbor, authorities added.

After being met by authorities at Oak Bluffs, O'Connell passed a portable breath analysis test. But halfway through a field sobriety test, which measures physical coordination, O'Connell refused to continue. He also refused to take a formal breathalyzer test at the State Police barracks. He has been charged with negligence and drunken driving.

Though careful not to blame O'Connell for Sanderson's death, Searle said the accident might have been avoided had O'Connell not illegally beached his boat to unload passengers.

It is illegal to drive any motorized craft within 150 feet of a swimming beach, though boat operators in Edgartown sometimes violate the rule for the sake of convenience, Searle said.

"Any place where there is a person swimming off a beach, it is off-limits to motorized craft," he said.

Witnesses said O'Connell had tried unsuccessfully to anchor his boat offshore before bringing it in to the beach. Assistant Harbormaster Hathaway was approaching O'Connell's boat to tell him to move it from the beach as the accident was unfolding, Searle said.

Autopsy results on Sanderson are pending.

Marcia O'Connell, who was attending the beachfront party hosted by her brother-in-law, William, said her family and Sanderson's wife, Donna, were still in shock yesterday. She said that as Sanderson stood in the shallow water alongside the motor boat, a teenager in a small dingy came rowing toward him. "Don't go near the back of the boat!" Sanderson hollered, warning the youth to stay clear of the propellers.

Moments later, Sanderson tried to climb aboard. But the boat's railing was 3 to 4 feet above the water's surface, and Sanderson appeared not to have the strength to pull himself up.

"He just looked up at my husband [Peter O'Connell, who was on board] and smiled like he was saying, `Nope, we're in our 60s and we're not going to climb up the side of a boat anymore,' " she said.
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