News from the DNR Office of Communications

Off-duty Maryland Natural Resources Police Officer Rescues Capsized Boaters

Chesapeake Bay Bridge – On June 20, 2009, at approximately 8:00 pm, an Off-duty Natural Resources Police Officer was east bound on the Chesapeake Bay bridge with his family when he noticed two people clinging to a cooler approximately one mile from the eastern shore. The off-duty Natural Resources Police Officer called the NRP Communication Center and informed them off the observation. This Officer then proceeded to the nearest patrol boat station located at the Chesapeake Marina at the base of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Kent Island. The Officer boarded the patrol boat and went to the area that he last observed the subjects in the water. When the officer arrived to the location, the occupants in the water were not at the location that they were previously observed. A Maryland Transportation Authority Officer was on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and directed the NRP Officer approximately mile to where the subjects in the water had drifted. When the NRP Officer arrived, he found three people clinging to two coolers. The subjects were transported to shore. An investigation of the accident revealed that five subjects where fishing in a 20 foot power boat, at Chesapeake Bay Bridge approximately one mile from Kent Island. A large wake from a freighter swept over the stern of the vessel causing it to capsize. Four out of five occupants were wearing life jackets. Two of the life jacket wearing occupants swam to the eastern shore and were picked up by a Natural Resources Police Patrol boat. The other two people wearing life jackets stayed with the fifth subject that was not wearing a life jacket. These three subjects used two coolers to assist them staying a float until rescued by the Off-duty NRP Officer.

The Maryland Natural Resources Police remind all citizens and visitors that attention to boating safety saves lives, and is of paramount importance when enjoying Maryland’s waterways. While it is recommended that everyone on board wear a personal floatation device while a vessel is underway, a child under 7 years of age must wear a life jacket while underway in a vessel that is less than 21 feet in length. In addition, children under 4 years of age and/or less than 50 pounds must have a life jacket equipped with a grab strap, inflatable headrest and crotch strap. The NRP also recommends filing a float plan with a friend or relative. The plan should include the vessel’s destination, how long it will remain at the destination, and what time it’s expected to return. This information will assist rescue units if the vessel does not return. The Maryland Natural Resources Police emergency number is 800-628-9944.

   June 22, 2009

Contact: Sgt. Art Windemuth

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 449,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at