Saturday, May 25, 2013
Investigators say the two boats involved in a fatal collision Friday were both headed in roughly the same direction when the crash occurred.
Charles W. Whetham, 63, of Brunswick, was in a 14-foot aluminum skiff powered by a 10 horsepower outboard at the time of the incident. He was headed from the stone wharf near the Chebeague Island Inn across the channel to Littlejohn Island, according to marine patrol.
The crew of a Coast Guard auxiliary boat comes to the aid of a man after the skiff he was in, at left, collided with a 38-foot motor yacht off Little John Island in Yarmouth. Courtesy photo
Whetham lived for many years on Chebeague and has family there.
Whetham was headed southwest as was Richard Lemieux, piloting a 36-foot Searay Sundancer, at about 5:15 p.m. when the motor yacht hit the skiff in the rear starboard side, badly denting the small boat.
Whetham was thrown into the water and was pulled out by members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary that were in a nearby boat. He was pronounced dead at Maine Medical Center at 6:07 p.m. Investigators are trying to determine whether the sun, which is low on the horizon at that time, might have made it hard for the boaters to see.
There's no indication the people on board the motor yacht saw the smaller boat, said Sgt. Ron Beal of the Maine Marine Patrol, which is investigating the crash. He said there was no sign alcohol was a factor but said blood tests were taken as is required in any serious boating crash.
The crash happened about 90 minutes after high tide near the red Coast Guard marker that indicates the narrow channel between Littlejohn Island and the rocks stretching west from Chebeague.