Local shrimpers and other volunteers continued efforts Thursday to salvage a 40-foot shrimp boat that capsized two days earlier in the Harbor River.
An afternoon thunderstorm and rough seas are believed to have caused the boat, named the Seahawk, to overturn Tuesday afternoon a few hundred yards from the south side of the Harbor River Bridge. The crew was pulled from the hull moments after the accident by a still-unknown passerby, said Paul Field, head of Fripp Island Sea Rescue, which was dispatched to the boat but called off once the crew members were out of harm's way.
Embarking from nearby Gay Fish Co. on St. Helena Island, shrimpers and other volunteers managed to turn the boat over in the two days since the vessel went belly-up, but as of Thursday afternoon, the Seahawk was still mired in the Harbor River. Attempts to reach Luke Morris, the boat's captain, for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.
The incident was also responsible for an outage of phone and Internet service on Harbor and Fripp islands that lasted more than nine hours Tuesday.
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Vernon Fraley, spokesman for Embarq, said that when the boat capsized, it damaged fiber optic cables in the river, leaving more than 1,700 customers without service. Fraley said the cables were repaired and service was restored at about midnight Wednesday.
The capsizing of the Seahawk was at least the second time a Beaufort County shrimp boat has overturned in area waters since the start of shrimp season in May.
Rain, wind and rough seas were blamed for capsizing a boat in the St. Helena Sound on May 21. Earnest Coleman, 65, and another had been shrimping despite strong winds and heavy rain.
When the weather worsened, witnesses said, Coleman's small speed boat turned into the wind and started taking on water. State officials said Coleman couldn't get his lifejacket on fast enough and almost drowned before being rescued.
He made it to shore and was transported to Beaufort Memorial Hospital. He died three days later.