Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Officials with the Maine Marine Patrol met Tuesday with members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary who were at the scene of a fatal boat crash last week, as authorities continued investigating what happened.
This photo taken by a witness just after Friday’s boat crash shows the overturned skiff, left, the cabin cruiser, right, with the Coast Guard Auxiliary pulling a man from the water.
A 14-foot aluminum skiff shows damage from the fatal collision with a cabin cruiser near Littlejohn Island on Friday.
Courtesy Sgt. Rob Beals of Maine Marine Patrol
Charles "Bill" Whetham, 63, died after his 14-foot skiff was hit by a 39-foot Sea Ray Sundancer about 5:15 p.m. Friday. The crash occurred southwest of the red channel marker on the south side of Littlejohn Island.
The state Medical Examiner's Office said Tuesday that Whetham died of "multiple blunt force injuries with drowning." That suggests Whetham was hit by the larger boat and knocked into the water, where he was unable to breathe.
Whetham was in and out of consciousness after he was pulled aboard the Coast Guard Auxiliary boat, which happened to be at the scene when the crash occurred. He was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he was pronounced dead just after 6 p.m.
Sgt. Rob Beal said the marine patrol has received conflicting information about whether the larger boat speeded up just before the crash, after passing through the narrow channel marked by the buoy near Littlejohn Island. The crash occurred southwest of the marker.
"This investigation is probably going to be at least an additional week. It's become very complex," Beal said.
The auxiliary members were interviewed by marine patrol officers immediately after the crash, as were all eight people on the 39-foot Sundancer, which is named The Best.
Investigators re-interviewed the Coast Guard volunteers Tuesday to gather details that may not have come up in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
The investigation is looking at the speed of the boats, their heading, who might have had the right of way and whether the large boat had, or should have had, a lookout, said Lt. Jonathan Cornish.
Whetham lived on Chebeague Island for many years and continued to work in a landscaping business there. He was returning home from work and making for the Cousins Island landing when the crash occurred.
Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: