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
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
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.