Menemsha Coast Guardsmen played a large role in a rescue attempt following a collision between a sailboat and power boat in Buzzards Bay on Friday that left an experienced sailor dead.
Coast Guard personnel aboard the Menemsha-based 25-foot rescue boat responded to a mayday call for help shortly after 1:45 p.m.
Senior chief Stephen Barr of the Menemsha Coast Guard station said the boat crew arrived on scene in less than 35 minutes and found another patrol boat already there.
With the help of a Coast Guard helicopter, the Menemsha crew did a 400-by-400-yard search of Buzzards Bay, looking for the helmsman that had fallen overboard.
The crew recovered the body of David J. Walsh, 64, of South Dartmouth at approximately 2:30 p.m..
“We recovered him soon after starting the initial search,” Senior Chief Barr said.
From the moment the man was brought aboard, the Coast Guardsmen conducted cardio-pulmonary resuscitation while the vessel was underway to New Bedford State Pier to meet a waiting ambulance.
According to the Coast Guard and other reports, Mr. Walsh was aboard the 30-foot sailboat Padanaram. Mr. Walsh, a retired president of Teledyne Rodney Metals and past chairman of the the Buzzards Bay Regatta, was out sailing with his friend Warren G. Hathaway, publisher emeritus of Hathaway Newspapers. They were sailing when a 60-foot power boat called Reason collided with the boat.
An investigation into the cause of the accident is being conducted by the state environmental police and the district attorney’s office.
Senior Chief Barr said this clearly is the worst boating accident of the summer. “Hopefully this is the only one,” he said.
Coast Guardsmen from Menemsha involved in the rescue were coxswain Lance Nelligan and his crew: Dan Carrillo, Mark Chaknis and Greg Lockwood.
Senior Chief Barr said that soon after the rescue the station crew held a debriefing to discuss and learn from the experience. “We always want to do better,” he said.
The senior chief said he urges boaters to stay off the radio when a distress call is being handled on channel 16. No problem occurred in this case, but he said, “I ask boaters, when you hear a distress call on the radio, let us get what we need to know, so we can act quickly.”