Marion diver pulls 8-year-old boy from under overturned boat

By Matthew Bernat & Andrea Ray | Jul 26, 2017
Mike Margulis of Marion describes the scene in Wareham.

Wareham — A Marion man dove to action on Wednesday, July 26, pulling a boy trapped under a capsized boat from the notoriously rough waters of the Cape Cod Canal in Wareham.

The accident later claimed the life of the 8-year-old Harry O'Connor of Sudbury.

A passing boater called the Coast Guard at about 4:40 p.m., reporting that a boat had overturned and 12 people were in the water.

Marion resident Mike Margulis was diving nearby in Buzzards Bay when he heard the distress call. Usually, Margulis suits up to inspect hulls for a variety of vessels. Wednesday marked the first time he was involved in a rescue.

After hearing the call, he headed toward the scene and was soon overtaken by a Marion Harbormaster boat. He followed in that boat’s wake.

“When I arrived, the Marion Harbormaster asked if I had dive gear ready,” recalled Margulis. “I said, ‘yeah,’ and he said, ‘get your gear on and dive into the hull.’”

Above the surface, Margulis said rescuers dealt with 4 to 5 foot waves while his own boat became swamped and was eventually towed to shore.

Below the waves, he swam through tangled debris, searching for the child beneath the 24-foot Four Winns "bowrider."

“I found an individual in a life jacket trapped in the bow section of the boat, unresponsive. I just grabbed him and covered his head to keep him from hitting his head on debris,” said Margulis.

He surfaced and handed the child to waiting Marion and Wareham Harbormaster officials.

“A rescue boat came in pretty well synchronized, nothing was said, and they immediately began CPR,” Margulis said.

According to Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Press Secretary Katie Gronendyke, Marion Assistant Harbormaster Adam Murphy performed CPR on the child until the boat reached the Tempest Knob boat ramp in Wareham.

The boy had been trapped under the bow of the boat for at least 12 minutes, probably more, Margulis estimated, considering the time it took him to get to the area.

Also assisting at the scene was Martin Van Breems, president of the Connecticut-based Sound Sailing Center. He had a crew of four students and two instructors aboard the 45-foot sailboat Disco Volante for navigational exercises.

Van Breems said his crew rigged a line to haul eight children and one adult out of the water and onto the Disco Valente, which then sailed the rescued to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, escorted by the Coast Guard.

O'Connor was first taken to Tobey Hospital in Wareham, and was airlifted to Boston Children’s Hospital. On July 30, Sudbury Public Schools, where the boy attended elementary school, notified parents that he had passed away.

Gronendyke said the capsized boat was registered in Onset and left out of Stonebridge Marina.

 

Hear Mike MarGulis describe the scene in the video above.

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