Northshore Harbormasters Association

N.H. man drowns off Rockport

By JOSH ODELL, Staff Writer, Gloucester Daily Times - June 17, 2002

ROCKPORT -- Hazardous weather caused a series of sea-related emergencies over the weekend and resulted in the death of a New Hampshire man early yesterday.

Police believe Carl Simonds Jr., 34, of Newmarket, N.H., was fishing on the rocks behind 127 Granite St. -- close to the Yankee Clipper Inn -- when he either slipped or was knocked into the water by waves. An unidentified caller reported the incident at 8:38 a.m.

With what Harbormaster Rosemary Lesch described as four- to six-foot swells pounding the shoreline yesterday, Assistant Harbormaster Ron Petoff then responded to the scene with Dr. Phil Goldsmith, who happened to be in a boat with Petoff when the call went out.

"I needed someone to go with me, and I knew he was a doctor so I said, 'let's go,'" said Petoff.

Meanwhile, responding Patrolman Robert Hickey was removing his boots and attempting to rescue Simonds, who was floating face down in the water 50 yards offshore with a yellow life vest on.

"The waves and the undertow were unbelievable, and (Hickey) couldn't get out there," said Patrolman Mark Schmink, who added that Hickey sustained injuries himself, none serious, after slipping on the shore's rocks.

When they reached the area, Petoff and Dr. Goldsmith managed to grab Simonds and haul him into the boat.

"In those conditions, it was not the easiest of chores," Petoff said, adding that Dr. Goldsmith immediately began administering CPR.

The two men then brought Simonds to Granite Pier, where ambulance and emergency units were waiting to bring him to the hospital.

Soon after, in the Addison Gilbert emergency room, Simonds was pronounced dead by Dr. Keon Berger.

"It's just a terrible thing," said Petoff. "I don't look forward to calls like that, I can tell you right now."

Still, in the situation presented to them, Lesch said the men who responded did what they could.

"Those conditions were not terrific," she said. "They did a great job, I commend them highly."

Lesch added that the Simonds incident was just one of a handful that kept her department busy over the weekend. At 11:45 a.m. Saturday, for example, when six- to eight-foot swells were hitting the shores, two Worcester divers needed to be helped to shore by police officers in Loblolly Cove.

"They were just exhausted," Lesch said.

Sometime between 3:30 and 3:45 p.m. yesterday, emergency units responded to another call regarding kayakers in trouble near Straitsmouth Island. Boats reached the individuals and helped them to safety.

"Everything turned out fine, and that's always the best way," Lesch said.

To keep such incidents to a minimum, Lesch urges people to check weather forecasts before heading into the water in order to be aware of possible hazardous conditions.

"You have to respect the ocean," she said. "A lot of people just don't understand how powerful the ocean is."


home  |  contact