Out of Gloucester


March 16, 1982

Fisherman, 18 Drowns, Older Brother Saved

One young fisherman drowned, but his older brother was rescued after their 20-foot skiff capsized off Eastern Point yesterday afternoon.  Bruce Fulford, 18, was pronounced dead from asphyxiation due to drowning at about 10 p.m. after a five-hour struggle by doctors to revive him.  Despite spending about 90 minutes under water, he still showed signs of life when admitted to Addison Gilbert Hospital, according to a hospital spokesman.

His older brother, Frank K. Fulford, 20, was treated for hypothermia and released at Addison Gilbert Hospital.  His rescuer, Curtis Murray, 24, also was treated and released, as was a Coast Guardsman, Daniel Kolb, who had plunged into the harbor.

Frank Fulford told police that it took the pair about an hour to swim to shore and that his brother had gotten to within a few feet of the stone pier at Raymond Beach before tiring.  Water temperatures in the harbor yesterday were estimated at 38 degrees.  Hospital spokesman said that there have been cases of persons being revived after long periods of time underwater, especially cold water.

The Fulfords were tending gill nets set inside Dog Bar breakwater, and water there was relatively calm, with 1-foot waves.  Coast Guardsmen were unsure why the boat capsized.  Frank Fulford later told police that two large waves had crashed across the stern of the boat, almost swamping it.  A third large wave capsized the boat, he said.

After failing to attract the attention of a Coast Guard boat passing near Ten Pound Island, the bothers decided to swim to shore while holding onto the empty gas containers.  A woman walking past Raymond Beach about 3 p.m. heard their shout for help and ran to the end of the stone pier.

"One of them was clinging to the end of the pier," said Joan Dieters, a Catholic nun and a guest at the Eastern Point retreat house.   "Another was holding onto a gas can about 3 feet off the end of the pier.   He was struggling.  No, he wasn't even struggling,"  said Sister Dieters.  "He looked like he was not able to hold on any longer."

She found a rope attached to the pier and tossed it Frank Fulford, clinging to the pier.  She ran back to Eastern Point Road, about 100 yards away, and finding no  home at a couple of houses, stopped a passing car, containing Murray and two friends.  Murray ran to the end of the pier and jumped in to aid Frank Fulford; his friends drove Ms. Dieters to the nearby Coast Guard lighthouse on Eastern Point.

They contacted police, returned to the pier and found Murray had pulled Frank Fulford out of the water but that the younger Fulford was not in sight. Murray later told police he saw Bruce Fulford but could not dive deep enough to reach him.

Judy Sudduth was just returning to her Eastern Point Road home, over looking the pier, to find "two men in the road; they were frantic."

"I thought they were crazy or drunk," she said, " but I noticed that they were soaking wet and red as lobsters."  She tried to get the two to her house to dry, "but one kept talking about his brother and trying to get back  to the water."

Accompanied by Coast Guardsmen Michael Mone and Kolb, from Eastern Point Light, they began to look for Bruce Fulford.   They were joined by firefighters and policemen, two Coast Guard boats from the Harbor Loop station and a Coast Guard helicopter.  A crowd gathered, pointing out gloves, a hat, a wooden box and gas cans floating ashore.  The pair parents' soon arrived, quietly surveyed the scene and talked with friends.  A firefighter told them that one of their sons was missing but that they weren't sure which one.

A friend escorted them back to their car.  Around 20 minutes later, at 4:30, a skin-diver found Bruce Fulford underwater, about 20 feet from the end of the pier.  Ambulance technicians began CPR work on Fulford during the drive to the hospital, and doctors there didn't give up hope until after 10 p.m.

A neighbor reported having seen the brothers fishing earlier that afternoon near his Eastern Point home, but hadn't given it much thought.  Though young, they were experienced fishermen, he said.  "They weren't the kind of boys you had to keep an eye on, " he said.  "They knew what they were doing.   Fishing is in their blood."  Their father and older brother, Robert Fulford III, are both fishermen.

Mone also saw the brothers fish frequently near the Eastern Point Light and knew them only by sight.  He didn't know their names until the visitors appeared at this door yesterday afternoon.


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