Boat's Sole Survivor Says Wood Plank Saved Life

The sole survivor of a scallop boat disaster that killed six people says a wooden plank saved his life.

Jose Luis Arias says he jumped overboard when the Lady Mary began sinking on March 24. Floating on his back so water wouldn't fill his survival suit, he told investigators Tuesday that he paddled away from the boat so it wouldn't suck him under as it went down.

Arias found an 8-foot-long piece of wood he had used on the boat floating in the water, and clung to it for two hours in darkness.

When a Coast Guard helicopter arrived after daybreak, he says he felt like he was "born again."

Earlier, the panel heard autopsy results showed the captain and one crew member had used marijuana.


Autopsy results show two fishermen aboard a scallop boat that sank off the New Jersey coast had used marijuana.

But an expert drug screener says how recently they had done so and whether it might have impaired their judgment and performance aboard the Lady Mary could not be determined.

Timothy Smith and Royal Smith Jr. were among six crew members who died when the boat sank 60 miles off Cape May on March 24.

Testimony on their toxicology reports came Tuesday from Dr. Anthony Costantino during a Coast Guard inquiry into the cause of the disaster.

The lone survivor of the wreck, Jose Luis Arias, is to testify later Tuesday. Tests showed he had not used drugs.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by AfroMan Location: Morehead City on May 5, 2009 at 12:47 PM
    I was gonna go to work but then I got high I just got a new promotion but I got high now I'm selling dope and I know why - cause I got high - cause I got high - casue I got high Would've stayed up on my boat.........
  • by Anonymous on May 5, 2009 at 12:13 PM
    I am from a commercial fishing family and my family does not do drugs but you can look around and find plenty of people who do in the fishing industry and there are those outside of the industry that does drugs so don't blame the commercial fisherman
  • by Just a girl Location: wmst on May 5, 2009 at 09:35 AM
    Mother Nature caused this accident, not marijuana. There are Doctors that do coke and other drugs. Give them drug screens and see how many come back positive. Look at the many boats that have went down this year because of weather conditions, you don't hear about there crew on drugs, right? Just not saying it's right, but that it just didn't need to be brought up.
  • by Mel on May 5, 2009 at 09:21 AM
    I know alot of people that are NOT fisherman that use dope. Quit steriotyping and just be happy you dont have to earn a living doing such a dangerous job. Be thankful its not your family out there. Be thankful that someone didnt lose their family member.
  • by Sam Location: Williamston on May 5, 2009 at 07:46 AM
    Now what does Marijuana have to do with it? Really! There is enough hardships for the families as it is. I don't smoke at all. I beleive it should be legalized for economy reasons. I don't smoke because I do not care for it myself. That's just like the fact that I don't like chocolate and refuse to eat it.
  • by Whatever Location: Wherever on May 5, 2009 at 07:33 AM
    Big deal.
  • by Blake Location: Greenville on May 5, 2009 at 07:32 AM
    O no, not a Blue Collar worker smokin pot?? omg!! how stupid is it that we have to make he point they were high? the weed didnt kill them, a storm did.
  • by Z Location: Jacksonville on May 5, 2009 at 07:19 AM
    I agree. I don't think it is relivent what they did. There is no need to bring this up. The boat sank and they died. It sucks but that's that. No need to tarnish their names. And thats all I have to say about that
  • by Dwayne Location: Greenville on May 5, 2009 at 07:13 AM
    Some things should go unreported. The media crossed the line here. Family members mourning the loss of a love one don't need this. What exactly is being implied if no determination can be made whether use of marijuana had anything to do with this tragedy. I expect reckless reporting from the AP but not WITN.
  • by sawyer Location: hyde county on May 5, 2009 at 07:10 AM
    All commercial fisherman need to pass drug test ,you have men on those boats ,drinking ,crack up.
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