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October 8, 2002

Angler's drowning is ruled accidental

From: Wilmington News Journal, DE
Oct. 8, 2002

W. Va. man's body found in Nanticoke

Sussex Bureau reporter

A man who died Friday while fishing in the Nanticoke River drowned and was cut multiple times when his boat circled over him, said Donna S. Sharp, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Public Health.

The cuts from the propeller of the 130-horsepower outboard motor were so severe, Sharp said, that they cut off the victim's life jacket.

Investigators have identified the boater as Terry H. Shirk, 41, of Romney, W. Va.

Shirk, a nationally recognized bass fisherman, was competing in the Deaf Eastern Bass Masters Championship Fishing Tournament when the accident occurred, said Capt. Bayard Holleger, a state Division of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officer.

Investigators do not know why Shirk fell from his high-performance bass boat. He was an experienced angler.

"I don't think we are ever going to know that," Holleger said.

Shirk could not swim, Sharp said. He was fishing alone when the accident occurred.

He was on a 17-foot boat that he had launched from Seaford, Sharp said. The accident occurred near the Woodland Ferry, more than 2 miles away.

Other boaters discovered Shirk's boat spinning in circles at full throttle.

The boat beached itself on a mud bank. No one was found aboard, according to H. Lloyd Alexander Jr., acting director of the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Other anglers on the river found Shirk's body.

Sharp said the state Medical Examiner's Office has ruled the death accidental.

The tournament had been set for Saturday and Sunday, but it was canceled after the accident.

Copyright ©2002, The News Journal.