Body of lost Hilton Head fisherman recovered

December 27, 2012 

The body of a fisherman was recovered from the Broad River at about 11:35 p.m. Wednesday after a 19-foot skiff capsized near Corn Island earlier in the day.

Martin Luther Stewart, 44, of Hilton Head Island was found after he had tried to swim ashore. An autopsy at the Medical University of South Carolina determined probable cause of death to be drowning and hypothermia.

Beaufort Water Search & Rescue was called to the area at about 6:30 p.m. by Sea Eagle Market after two men gathering oysters for the business did not return.

Personnel found Vincent Chaplin, 44, of St. Helena Island clinging to the top of the capsized boat at about 7:15 p.m., according to search and rescue spokesman Dick Jennings. Chaplin told personnel that Stewart tried to swim to shore, but he did not make it.

Rescuers returned to shore with Chaplin, who was taken Beaufort Memorial Hospital. He was expected to be released from the hospital today.

The crews returned to the water to retrieve Stewart's body, but gale-force winds and high waves slowed the search. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was called to help with the search at about 10:30 p.m., and the body was found soon after the helicopter arrived. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources also responded and continues to investigate the incident.

The boat the men were fishing in was left in the water to be recovered later.

Jennings said they are unsure how long the men were in the water before rescue crews arrived.

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