Improper Anchoring Caused Boating Accident

Well when I seen that the cause of this horrific accident had been discovered I just had to share this story with you as written by

An agency investigating a deadly boating accident involving two NFL players and their friends in the Gulf of Mexico has concluded that it was caused when the vessel was improperly anchored and the boat capsized after one of them tried to throttle forward to pry loose the anchor.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s investigation also cited carelessness and operator inexperience as contributing factors. The combination of errors also came at the time a storm front was moving in, making conditions on the water very rough.

Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, free-agent NFL defensive lineman Corey Smith and former University of South Florida players William Bleakley and Nick Schuyler departed from Clearwater Pass, Fla., early Feb. 28 to go offshore fishing for amberjack.

Schuyler, found clinging to the boat two days later, was the lone survivor. The other three men haven’t been found.

In an in-depth interview with the agency, Schuyler gave this account of the accident:

Early that morning, the men went more than 50 miles offshore in Cooper’s 21-foot vessel. It was loaded with two large coolers filled with ice, drinks, food and beer. All of the friends were dressed in warm clothes, sweat suits and jackets.

Around 5:30 p.m., they went to pull up the anchor and head back to port, but the anchor was stuck. Bleakley suggested they tie it to the transom and use the boat’s motor to pull it loose.

When Cooper tried to thrust the boat forward, the vessel became submerged and capsized, tossing the men overboard. They tried to upright the boat without success. Bleakley swam underneath and was able to retrieve three life vests, a large cooler and a makeshift flotation device.

Bleakley, whom Schuyler has credited with saving his life, used the makeshift flotation device, which has been described previously as a cushion. The other three wore the vests.

The men appear to have tried everything in their power to rescue themselves: Schuyler told the agency they tried retrieving and using flares without success. They also tried getting their cell phones, which were in plastic baggies.

They knew how many hours were passing because Schuyler had a watch with a light on and was able to keep track of the time. He said that around 5:30 a.m. the next day, Cooper became unresponsive. Schuyler and Bleakley tried to revive him without success.

Cooper’s flotation device was removed, and Bleakley put it on. The Oakland Raiders linebacker then became separated from the boat.

About an hour later, Smith started show “possible extreme symptoms of hypothermia.” He removed his flotation device and also became separated from the boat.

The two college teammates were the only ones left. They hung on together for about 24 hours, until Bleakley grew weak and also removed his life vest.

Schuyler said that his friend appeared to die as he was holding onto him. He let his friend go, and Bleakley drifted away.

The Coast Guard released its records on the accident last week. According to the agency, Schuyler told them the boat capsized after their anchor got caught in a reef.

The accuracy of that account was somewhat unclear because Schuyler was suffering from hypothermia and spoke to them shortly after he was pulled from the boat. His doctor said he probably could have only lived another five to 10 hours.

The Coast Guard called off its search after three days of scouring 24,000 miles of ocean.


Lions Retire Missing Boater Smith’s No. 93 For 2009 Season

When I first heard the story of the missing boaters it was sad to read, but when it was obvious that they would not be found my heart wept for their families and I found this latest article on and I felt it was so touching that I had to share it. May god bless the families of the boaters and may he bless the recovered boater who’s life will not be the same after being stranded for 2 days but to have lost 3 good friends during this tragic event.

The Detroit Lions will retire the number 93 for the 2009 football season in memory of player Corey Smith, one of three men lost when their fishing boat capsized off the Florida Gulf Coast three weeks ago.

Lions player development director Galen Duncan told several hundred mourners in Smith’s hometown church Saturday that Smith’s number would be retired for a year in honor of a player of extraordinary heart and competitive drive.

“I want to tell you something about Corey Smith playing with pain,” Duncan said of Smith, who played with such abandon that high school teammates called him the Tasmanian Devil.

“I’d tell the coaches, ‘You’ve got to watch Corey because he’s not going to tell you he’s hurt,'” said Duncan, whom Smith befriended in his three seasons in Detroit. “If you could see the way this man worked.”

The Coast Guard rescued one man, Nick Schuyler, who was clinging to the 21-foot boat’s overturned hull, on March 2, two days after it overturned in stormy seas. The bodies of Smith, Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, and former University of South Florida player William Bleakley have not been found.

Many of Smith’s teammates from the Lions and from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers where he played his first four NFL seasons attended the memorial service. So did former teammates and coaches from North Carolina State and from Richmond’s John Marshall High School.

His high school coach, Kevin Burden, tearfully conceded that he was never impartial about the quiet giant who was the team’s undisputed leader.

“You’re not supposed to have a favorite player when you are a coach, but he was the one who got under your skin. He was a great football player but he was an even better man,” Burden said in a faltering voice.

“Tonight, when I say my prayers, I will ask God to assign me a guardian angel and he’ll be wearing number 93,” Burden concluded, leaving many in the crowd sobbing or wiping their eyes.

Smith signed with Tampa Bay as an undrafted rookie in 2002 and backed up Pro Bowl defensive linemen Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice on a Buccaneers team that won a Super Bowl.

An earlier injury sidelined Smith for the Super Bowl, but he was there with his team. His diamond-crusted Super Bowl ring was the only bling Smith wore, friends said. And for the rest of his career, he drove himself year-round to show the world he deserved it, said linebacker Ryan Nece, a teammate of Smith’s in Tampa and Detroit.

“He was never complacent. He was always striving to prove himself,” Nece said. And at 250 pounds, Smith was “an undersized defensive lineman, and some people may argue that there’s no way that they can play in the NFL. But he constantly worked on his craft, constantly tried to improve.”

To Lions rookie defensive end Landon Cohen, Smith was a mentor during last year’s agonizing 0-16 season — the worst in NFL history.

“We spent a lot of time together, and that’s the way Corey was: he didn’t say much, but he led by example,” Cohen said. “He was a blue-collar working guy.”