By Dave Rogers
SALISBURY -- Local police are investigating the drowning of a 64-year-old Amesbury woman whose body was found Sunday evening inside Ring's Island Marina hours after she was reported missing from nearby Cove Marina.
U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Adam Stanton said a 45-foot boat and helicopter were dispatched to Salisbury for a search and rescue mission around 9:45 p.m. Sunday after receiving word from local authorities that a woman had entered the water near Cove's Marina and was missing. Salisbury harbormaster Ray Pike was also called in to assist.
According to Stanton, the woman's body was found less than two hours later by a good Samaritan searching the water around the floating docks at Ring's Island Marina off First Street. CPR was performed at the scene until emergency medical technicians arrived. The victim was transported to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport where she was pronounced dead.
Salisbury police Chief Tom Flower declined to release the woman's identity until more information regarding the accident was obtained by his officers. The woman was confirmed to be an Amesbury resident.
Pike said in addition to Coast Guard and harbormaster assets, there were several volunteers and police officers searching the area with flashlights. The search area extended from the town pier to Cove Marina. It was one of those volunteers that found the victim in the river between a dock and boat at Ring's Island Marina, located about 300 yards downstream from Cove Marina. Cove Marina is located on the riverbank opposite Newburyport's Cashman Park.
"It's just sad when someone falls in and doesn't have a life jacket on," Pike said. "It's much sadder for the family but the entire boating commuinity feels the loss."
Pike said there was a slight outgoing current at the time she entered the water and that low tide was approaching. He was surprised her body was carried as far as it was in such a short time.
"We didn't think she'd go that far," Pike said.
The Merrimack River has claimed two other lives in recent months. In May, Newburyport police recovered the body of a German national who had been reported missing last November after alling out of the dingy he was piloting to retrieve his dog tied up near Cashman Park, in the same general area of the river where Sunday's drowning occurred. In June 2011, 29-year-old Derrick Lee's body was found two days after he was believed to have slipped off the 20-foot cabin cruiser he has been living in, moored at the Ring's Island Marina.
Cove Marina owner Brian Mullen said the victim's 33-foot-long white Sea Ray power boat had been moored since the beginning of summer, the victim's first at the marina. Mullen said he didn't know how she entered the water but mentioned she had just left another boat and was walking towards her moored vessel when the accident occurred.
"I just don't know how it happened," Mullen said.
Founded in 1989, Cove Marina is open 24 hours a day during its season which runs from May into October. Yesterday the victim's boat was still in its mooring.