Duck hunters die after boat capsizes on Westport River

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Two duck hunters are dead and a third was rushed to  Rhode Island Hospital after their boat apparently overturned on the Westport River Tuesday morning. See Coast Guard video of the rescue of the lone survivor.

The two men who died have been identified by the District Attorney Samuel Sutter's office  as Steven James, 53, of Marshfield and Robert Becher, 55, of Cromwell, Conn. The survivor, identified as Gregg Angell, 51 of Westport, is being treated for symptoms of hypothermia.

Mr. James, an offshore fishing charter boat operator, is president of the Boston Big Game Fishing Club, the group that sponsors the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament.

Harbormaster Richie Earle, who pulled two of the victims from the water, said that the mishap happened in the harbor somewhere in the vicinity of Tripp's Boat Yard and the overturned boat was found in that general area.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England received a report at approximately 9 a.m., Tuesday, from the Westport harbormaster of the overturned skiff.

A Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew and a Coast Guard Station Menemsha 47-foot Motor Life Boat rescue crew immediately launched to search.

The helicopter crew spotted two hunters in the water about a half-mile from the overturned skiff at approximately 10:30 a.m. Highway Surveyor Chris Gonsalves and Detective Jeff Majewski recovered and transported them to a waiting rescue crew who pronounced them deceased.

The two who were found first were wearing waders and heavy hunting gear, Mr. Earle said.

At 11:11 a.m., The Coast Guard reported that a helicopter rescue swimmer had recovered the third victim — along the shore of an island, Mr. Earle said. That person was flown to Rhode Island Hospital.

Water temperatures there are in the mid-thirties; air temperatures were around 10 degrees with a stiff northwest wind at the time.

Mr. Earle said the hunters launched their boat at the state ramp.

 

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.