Pontoon boat plunges over Maryland dam, killing one, injuring 8

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 28, 2015 6:24 PM

By John Clarke

(Reuters) - One man died and eight teenagers were injured when the pontoon boat they were aboard was swept over a Maryland lake dam by a heavy current caused by earlier stormy weather, authorities said on Sunday.

The group was on Lake Linganore, about 40 miles (64 km)northwest of Washington, D.C., at about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday when the boat crested the dam and crashed into a rocky spillway below, Maryland Department of Natural Resources police spokeswoman Candy Thomson said. It is the fifth fatal boat accident in the state this year.

The boat passengers and pilot were thrown from the 20-foot (6.1 m) vessel, she said.

The pilot, Stephen Wade Hembree, 62, of New Market, Maryland, was thrown over the dam and down the spillway 100 yards (91.44 m) below, where he was pinned between two rocks and drowned in the rising water, Thomson said.

It took rescue crews five hours to retrieve his body, she said.

Four passengers were rescued from the dam ledge by a Maryland state police helicopter using a hoist and ropes. A county fire and rescue swift boat pulled another boater from the water, according to Thomson.

Police also used a helicopter hoist and basket to rescue three passengers from the rocks at the bottom of the spillway, inaccessible by water or land, she said.

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The eight teens were transported to Frederick Memorial Hospital. The extent of their injuries were not immediately known. Neither Hembree nor the passengers were wearing life jackets, Thomson said.

Maryland's natural resources authorities are investigating the incident.

(Reporting by John Clarke in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Matthew Lewis)