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Boats collide; husband & wife killed

GATES – A Sedley, VA couple lost their lives Saturday afternoon during a boating accident on the Chowan River in Gates County.

Douglas Martin, 42, and his 35-year-old wife, Angela, were killed when two boats collided on the river just south of the state line, according to information from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC).

Mr. Martin is a native of Milwaukee in Northampton County.

The driver and passenger of the other boat received minor injuries and refused medical treatment. The NCWRC has yet to release their names, citing the continuing investigation. However, the NCWRC did confirm that both boats involved in the accident were registered in Virginia.

Lt. Mark Rich, the NCWRC Supervisor for 14 northeastern North Carolina counties, said Mr. Martin was operating a 16-foot bass boat southbound on the Chowan River at the time of the 2:45 p.m. accident.

“The only witnesses we have are the two survivors, who said they were northbound, operating a 17-foot bass boat, on the Chowan River and saw the other boat, operated by an individual later identified as Douglas Martin, coming towards them,” Rich said. “The two boats then collided, causing the 17-foot boat to become airborne where it passed over the top of the 16-foot boat, from bow to stern.

“At some point, we believe – pending the medical examiner’s report – that Mr. and Mrs. Martin were struck by the boat that was airborne. Their bodies were recovered from inside the boat,” Rich added.

According to Gates County officials, the original 9-1-1 call was received by emergency responders in the City of Franklin (VA). Due to not knowing the exact location of the accident, Franklin launched its rescue effort on the Nottoway River, which eventually merges with the Blackwater River near the state line to form the ChowanRiver.

Meanwhile, search and rescue boats were launched by Hertford and Gates County emergency response teams as well as the NCWRC.

“We later learned that the Franklin boats were the first on the scene, and they notified the North Carolina responders that they had located the accident scene on the Chowan River in our state,” Rich said.

NCWRC Officer Brandon Wilkins is in charge of the investigation, which is continuing.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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