Boat turns hard, flings driver out

Quite a while after throwing its driver, the Whaler continues spinning around in the Westport River. Photo by Gary Tripp. Quite a while after throwing its driver, the Whaler continues spinning around in the Westport River. Photo by Gary Tripp.

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Tossed violently from his boat on the Westport River’s East Branch, a Westport man was rescued unhurt recently as his empty boat circled at full throttle.

Harbormaster Richie Earle said that Matt Fritz of River Road, Westport, was driving his 17-foot Boston Whaler with 90 horsepower outboard about halfway between the Fontaine (Route 88) bridge and Hix Bridge at around noon on June 26 when the boat turned sharply and threw him out.

“The boat did a real full-speed digger — so hard that he almost ripped the seat out … maybe he was holding onto it with one hand.”

“He was very lucky” that the boat, still in a tight, high-speed circle, missed him. And he was also lucky, Mr. Earle said, that a nearby jet skier was able to get him out of the water quickly and drop him off at a nearby dock.

At some point, the boat slammed into and dislodged a channel marker.

“By the time we got up there the boat was still going full out,” Mr. Earle said. Rather than get in its way, they opted to wait it out.

“It was sputtering some and finally it just conked out.”

Mr. Earle said that neither boat nor buoy seemed to have sustained serious damage. He added that it was not clear what caused the boat to turn so suddenly.

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