A recreational fisherman died yesterday in the water around Quick's Hole after his power boat caught fire and sank.
The name of the victim had not been released at press time pending notification of next of kin.
The accident occurred early yesterday afternoon. The Coast Guard responded to a call for help from a nearby vessel, when the fire was first spotted, and sent a 41-foot utility boat from Menemsha and a 21-foot power boat from Woods Hole. A Coast Guard helicopter also responded. The boat that sank was named the Captain Tony, a power boat with a lobster boat design. The boat was berthed in New Bedford.
A narrow channel that lies between Pasque and Nashawena, two of the Elizabeth Islands, Quick's Hole is located due north of Gay Head. New Bedford is due north of the hole. Among other things, boats frequently use the passage to get from Menemsha to the mainland. During the response to the accident there were close to a dozen boats in the area.
The first call for help came from the sailing vessel Spirit at about 1 p.m., according to a Coast Guard spokesman. "They observed a recreational boat, lobster-style boat afire," said James Deal, a search and rescue specialist with the Coast Guard. Moments later the sinking boat was awash.
"An individual was recovered from the water by the vessel Pamela Jane," Mr. Deal said. CPR was administered. That person was then transported from the private boat to the 41-footer from Menemsha," Mr. Deal said.
Word of the accident quickly spread through the Vineyard communication center, and there were initial reports that the injured party from the boat might be brought to Menemsha. A group of emergency medical technicians and an ambulance were summoned to Menemsha to wait for the rescue boat. Mr. Deal said there was some confusion about where the boat was headed. He said the distance to either Falmouth or Menemsha was about the same, and while en route a decision was made to send the Coast Guard boat to Woods Hole. At one point the decision was reversed and the chatter through the communications center reflected the confusion.
Meanwhile a search was launched in the area around where the boat had partially sunk in case there had been another person on board. The search was eventually called off.
Michael Trudeau, Cape and Islands first assistant district attorney, said yesterday that the body of the victim was being transported to the state medical examiner's office in Boston to determine the cause of death. He said the accident is under investigation by the state police, the state police fire marshal's office, state police detectives assigned to the Cape and Islands District Attorney's office and the Massachusetts Environmental Police.
Last night the U.S. Coast Guard broadcast a notice to mariners about the possible threat to navigation from the half-sunk powerboat in Quick's Hole.