Videoray - News - March 13, 2004
Crews Recover Taxi Boat's Roof;
Search For Victims Continues
BALTIMORE -- Crews have recovered a significant
portion of the taxi boat that capsized in the
Inner Harbor last weekend.
Baltimore City Fire Department Chief William
Goodwin announced Friday just before 2 p.m. that
crews have recovered the entire covering of the
taxi boat, which is made of metal and glass.
Goodwin said though they haven't found the three
passengers missing since the tragedy, the find
is "the next best thing" and it's "the
most significant find of the week."
He said they located the 25-feet-long and 8-feet-wide
structure using sonar equipment and verified its
identity with a robotic camera (picutred, left).
With that image, officials were able to read advertisements
on the structure and other writing, Goodwin said.
A barge equipped with a crane (pictured, below
right) arrived at the scene later the same afternoon
to raise the structure as soon as possible so
that the National Transportation Safety Board
Search and rescue teams Friday began their seventh
day searching by fighting the weather, the difficult
conditions of the harbor and their own frustration
and discouragement. Rescue crews will continue
to survey the vicinity of where the structure
"We have potentially six important objects
that we definitely want to look at," Goodwin
Baltimore City Fire Department spokesman Kevin
Cartwright said the weather -- windy and cold
with high, choppy waves -- was working against
the rescue effort.
He said the murky waters and debris strewn floor
made for slow-going.
The structure was found near the Lehigh Cement
Building, in the northern part of the harbor,
Goodwin said. Though much of that area has not
yet been searched, crews will continue a widespread
search into Friday night, according to Goodwin.
"It is with great emphasis that we hope,
as we continue to pinpoint the track of the boat,
and now with recovering more and more pieces,
by all rules of the path and other rescues we've
been on, we will continue to hone in on the area
[to search]," Goodwin said.
The fire chief explained the process crews are
using to search. He said crews are working to
first locate targets, verify targets, then have
remote-operated vehicle from the Tyco ship grab
hold of the object for a diver to retrieve.
The search crews desperately want to achieve
closure for the families of the missing passengers
-- a young couple who had hoped to marry and a
6-year-old boy from Virginia.
Cartwright said crews planned to begin Friday's
search by using a remote controlled, underwater
robot camera operated by the Navy to get clearer
images of 14 objects identified by a remote controlled
The plan is to narrow those possibilities into
probabilities before sending divers into the water
for a closer look, Cartwright said.
"To dive for every object that is identified
is time consuming and more likely to stress our
divers physically and psychologically," said
Missing are Corinne Schillings and Andrew Roccella,
both 26, of Alexandria, Va. and Daniel Bentrem,
of Harrisonburg, Va.
The missing were among 25 people aboard the Seaport
Taxi when it flipped Saturday near historic Fort
McHenry in a sudden storm with wind gusts reaching
55 mph. The 36-foot pontoon boat was equipped
with lifejackets, but passengers are not required
to wear them.
Roccella and Corinne J. Schillings, 26, of Alexandria,
Va., planned to marry. They were on the water
taxi ride with all four of their parents, who
One person remained hospitalized Thursday: 8-year-old
Sarah Bentrem of Harrisonburg, Va. She was in
critical condition at University of Maryland Medical
Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. Sarah is
the sister of the missing 6-year-old boy, Daniel.
They rode the water taxi with their parents and
In addition to the three missing passengers,
who are presumed dead, two others passengers have
Lisa Pierce, 34, of Lyndhurst, N.J., died at
Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, according to one
of her mother's bosses. JoAnn Pierce, 62, of Vineland,
N.J., died Saturday.
Diver Kenneth Hydt said the search has been "pretty
"We want to bring closure to the families,"
said the 38-year-old who spent Thursday inspecting
six objects crews had hoped were the missing passengers.
But those objects turned out to be trees, lumber
and dirt after closer inspection.
The rescue effort has been aided by a remote-controlled
sub, used by Tyco Corp. to help lay communications
cables in the Atlantic Ocean, measures the shape,
size and density of objects.
A Tyco crew gives instructions to divers in the
water, telling them when to make turns. Divers
also have communication with their boat.
Cartwright said the sub will remain part of the
search until the bodies are recovered or the effort
is called off.
A spokeswoman with Seaport Taxi said their water
taxis are not operating again Friday, out of deference
to the families of those missing in last week's
accident. The spokeswoman said the decision about
when to resume operations will be made on a day-to-day