CHESAPEAKE CITY — An investigation is continuing after a boat traveling approximately 40 mph on the Elk River ran aground near Chesapeake City — injuring all six occupants, including two who were flown to a regional trauma center in helicopters, according to Maryland Natural Resources Police.
“Alcohol is suspected in this incident. However, charges have not been filed, as this investigation is still ongoing,” Lauren Moses, a NRP public information officer, reported in a written update late Sunday night.
Also on Sunday, Moses alleged that the boat was traveling about 40 mph when it crashed into land, not approximately 60 mph — information that the agency initially released on Saturday.
In addition, included in that update, Moses reported late Sunday night that a total of six people were aboard the vessel when it ran aground, four of whom received medical treatment for minor injuries. Maryland State Police helicopter crews flew the other two to University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Unit in Baltimore, where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to Moses.
One of the people who had been on board the vessel was reported missing at the crash scene, triggering a massive search by the U.S Coast Guard, the Cecil County Department of Emergency Services and area volunteer fire companies, according to Alec McLennan, chief of the Chesapeake City Volunteer Fire Company, which was at the scene.
The search on and along the Elk River in and around the Port Herman community off Town Point Road, south of Chesapeake City, involved fireboats and CCDES drones equipped with infrared imaging, in addition to emergency workers scouring the land on foot, McLennan reported.
At approximately 2 a.m. on Saturday, about three hours after the operation had started, the search was suspended, McLennan said. Not long after that search had been halted, he added, emergency volunteers spotted the missing person.
“As we were driving away from the scene, we saw the missing man walk out of a cornfield onto Town Point Road. He was about two or three miles away from where the boat ran aground,” McLennan told the Cecil Whig on Saturday.
An ambulance crew drove that man to Christiana Hospital in Delaware, where he was treated for unspecified injuries, McLennan reported.
An NRP photo of the crash scene shows one side of the boat leaning against a tree trunk — an image that suggests the watercraft went airborne after running aground. McLennan noted that that tree is near a dock, close to the riverbank.
NRP officials had not released the names of the injured people, as of Monday.
NRP officers responded on the Elk River to the scene in Port Herman at 10:38 p.m. Friday, after receiving a dispatch regarding a boat that had crashed into land, police reported.
“When police arrived, they learned that a 39-foot Fountain vessel, traveling at approximately 60 mph, ran aground,” Moses reported Saturday, adding, “This investigation is ongoing, and updates are forthcoming.”
On Sunday, in a correction, Moses lowered that approximate speed to 40 mph.