, Salem, MA

Local News

June 19, 2012

Man dies after falling overboard at sailing race

SALEM — A Revere man died after falling overboard from a sailboat taking part in a Boston Yacht Club race Saturday afternoon.

Joseph Sampson of Revere lost his balance and fell from a sailboat just after 2 p.m., said Patrick Mulligan, an assistant harbormaster. Sampson went into cardiac arrest once he was in the water and died after being taken to Salem Hospital.

Crew members on the Boston Yacht Club race boat saw Sampson go overboard, quickly retrieved him and performed CPR on him all the way to the State Street dock, where the boat met Mulligan and an ambulance, Mulligan said.

Sampson was in cardiac arrest all the way to Salem Hospital, Mulligan said.

"It was a great effort by everyone," he said. "From the time they (the Boston Yacht Club) did the emergency call to the time he was in the dock was roughly 10 minutes."

Sampson was wearing a life jacket and all the right safety gear, Mulligan said. The water temperature was roughly 59 degrees on Saturday; it was windy, and the water was pretty choppy.

The cold water may have been what caused him to go into cardiac arrest, although Mulligan said he was unsure if Sampson had any prior health conditions.

"The cold water and strenuous conditions may have just been too much for him," Mulligan said. "... It was just a misfortune that he lost his balance and fell over."

Saturday's race, one of many organized regularly by Marblehead yacht clubs, was for sailboats in the 22-foot range, Mulligan said.

Sampson had put his name on a list of volunteers available for boats that were short on crew members, Mulligan said. On Saturday, he was sailing on this particular boat for the first time.

"We don't know his sailing ability," Mulligan said, "... (but) I would imagine that he would have some experience if he signed up for that volunteer list."

Sampson fell overboard between Tom Moore Rock and Tinkers bell in Salem Harbor, almost off Devereux Beach, Mulligan said.

Boston Yacht Club is at 1 Front St. in Marblehead. The club was closed yesterday, and no one there could  be reached for comment.

Bethany Bray can be reached at and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.

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