Woman dead following boating accident near Georgetown, SC

Southeastern Coast Guard News
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Coast Guard boat and air crews responded following a deadly boating accident in Winyah Bay near Georgetown, S.C., Tuesday afternoon.

Dead is Delores M. Jones, 66.

A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Georgetown was conducting training in Winyah Bay when they spotted a 16-foot recreational boat capsized in shallow water with a man on top of the vessel at 11 a.m. When the boatcrew arrived on scene with the vessel, James Jones, 66, informed the Coast Guardsmen the boat’s anchor line got caught in the propeller and when he tried raising the outboard engine to free the line, the vessel became unstable and capsized, throwing him and his wife in the water. Jones said he was initially trapped under the vessel, and when he surfaced his wife was drifting away. He couldn’t swim and neither of them was wearing a life jacket so he climbed on top of the overturned vessel and attempted to flag down passing boats. He told the Coast Guardsmen his wife had been in the water for about 25 minutes when they arrived, and she was no longer in sight.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Charleston immediately directed the launch of another boatcrew from Station Georgetown and a helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Facility Charleston to search for Delores Jones. The watchstanders also begin transmitting an urgent marine information broadcast, asking boaters in the area to keep a lookout for Delores Jones.

The Station Georgetown boatcrew brought James Jones aboard the 24-foot Special Purpose Craft and transported him to the South Island Ferry boat ramp in Georgtown. He was not in need of medical treatment.

Mariners aboard a Tow Boat U.S. commercial salvage vessel responded to the broadcast and reported about 11:20 a.m. they located a woman’s body about one mile away from the accident site. James Jones identified her as his wife.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. and Mrs. Jones and their family, friends and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time,” said Sean Shrum, Coast Guard Sector Charleston command duty officer. “It’s heartbreaking for all the responders involved when an accident ends in tragedy.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Bowes of Station Georgetown said James Jones was lucky the Coast Guard boatcrew found him when they did because the tide was coming in and the vessel he was on top of likely would have been submerged by noon, leaving him with nothing to hold onto.

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to wear life jackets at all times since accidents often happen quickly and without warning.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is conducting an investigation.

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