The Maryland DNR reports: “Alcohol use, inattention, and excessive speed led to the fatal boat accident on Whitehall Creek in Annapolis July 31, a Maryland Natural Resources Police investigation determined.
The accident killed Paul Christopher Dettor, 49, of Annapolis, and injured two passengers.
The three men were returning to Whitehall Creek at about 11 p.m. after having dinner on Kent Island earlier in the evening. Their departure was delayed by thunderstorms. The two survivors acknowledged that all three men were drinking, but could not say how much alcohol they consumed.
After crossing the Chesapeake Bay, Dettor steered the 20-foot Boston Whaler to the right to enter Whitehall Creek and slammed nearly head-on into a stone jetty at Sharp’s Point. Dettor was ejected from the boat and landed on the rocks, sustaining fatal injuries.
Damage inside the boat indicates that the passengers were thrown into the center console and seat posts. John Wilkens, 49, of Swampscott, Mass., suffered fractured ribs and facial lacerations. The boat owner, Greg Lilly, 48, of Arnold, had head and facial cuts.
Dettor was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died. He was the state’s eighth boating death of the year. An autopsy and toxicology tests revealed that Dettor was legally intoxicated at the time of the accident, with a blood alcohol content of .13.
Investigators learned that Dettor may have become confused when shoreline lights at the creek entrance used by boaters as an informal landmark likely were not on at the time of the crash. The impact of the collision punched a golf ball-sized hole in the forward left side of the hull, created multiple cracks, and peeled back the fiberglass along the bottom. The force sheared off the motor’s propeller blades.
The vessel’s speed could not be determined, however the damage was consistent with the vessel striking the jetty, “with enough speed to be up on plane,” the investigation found. A boat on plane has sufficient speed so that the bow rises slightly and the hull skims along the water.
The investigation has concluded and is being reported to the U.S. Coast Guard.”