Small Town News

Disaster and Accident

Boat Lands on Chappy Beach, Driver Charged

Vineyard Gazette of Edgartown, Massachusetts

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A Massachusetts man was charged with operating'a motor boat under the influence after the boat he was operating went over a dock and crashed into the beach on Chappaquiddick over the weekend, Edgartown police said. Police said the two men aboard the boat were transported to the Vineyard hospital with injuries that did not appear to be severe.

Harley Stowell, 51, of Manchester, was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, second offense and negligent operation, Edgartown police Sgt. Craig Edwards said Monday. The 22-foot open, center console Jones Brothers boat owned and operated by Mr. Stowell allegedly struck a dock at 30 miles per hour, throwing Mr. Stowell and a passenger out of the boat and onto the beach in front of the Chappaquiddick Beach Club.

Sergeant Edwards said according to a police report, on Saturday evening at 7:55 p.m., three Edgartown officers were on the police and fire patrol boat in the harbor because of a 9 p.m. private fireworks display for a wedding.

The patrol received a call from the person running the fireworks barge who reported that a boat went by at about 40 miles per hour and that he thought he heard the boat hitting the Chappaquiddick shoreline. Just prior to this, Sergeant Edwards said, officers heard what they thought was an airplane.

With visibility less than a mile, he said officers responded to the Chappaquiddick shoreline and using a thermal imaging camera, located the boat about 10 feet up on the shore. The boat had apparently gone over a dock before hitting the beach, he said.

Mr. Stowell and a passenger were located on the beach, he said, and both parties complained of possible injuries. Edgartown fire and rescue personnel and an ambulance responded and took them to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital. Mr. Stowell allegedly said he was following his GPS at the time of the incident and it must have malfunctioned, Sergeant Edwards said.

Mr. Stowell was transported to the hospital with officers, Sergeant Edwards said.

Sergeant Edwards added that a high tide may have saved the mens' lives. "If it had been a low tide, the boat wouldn't have gotten over the top of the dock," he said.

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Original Publication Date: October 10, 2014

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