Island shark tournament organizer killed while duck hunting

Steven James, one of two men dead after skiff capsizes on Westport River
Steven James, one of the organizers of the annual shark tournament on Martha's Vineyard, was killed in a duck hunting incident in Westport Tuesday. James is seen here judging at last year's tournament. Photo by David G. Curran.

WESTPORT - Coast Guard crews responded to the Westport River Tuesday morning after 9 a.m. where an overturned skiff was found. An Air Station Cape Cod MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and a life boat rescue crew from Coast Guard Station Menemsha responded in search of survivors.

According to the Coast Guard, two men were found a half-mile from the capsized skiff around 10:30 a.m. Those two men were taken to shore where they were pronounced dead.

The third man known to have been on the skiff, 51-year-old Gregg Angell of Westport, was rescued a half hour later and taken to the hospital where he is being treated for hypothermia.

According to Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter's Office, a resident saw the capsized skiff around 8 a.m. and notified the Westport Harbormaster, who in turn notified the Coast Guard and the Westport Police and Fire Departments.

Police soon learned that three men, Mr. Angell and two others, had gone out duck hunting earlier that morning. Sutter's Office identified the two men killed as 53-year-old Steven James of Marshfield and 55-year-old Robert Becher of Cromwell, CT.

Authorities do not suspect foul play, according to DA Sutter's Office.

Steven James was the president of the Boston Big Game Fishing Club. BBGFC was the organizers of the highly popular and equally controversial Monster Shark Tournament held each summer for the past 27 years on Martha's Vineyard. But residents may have made 2013 the last year the tournament would be held on the island, voting to make it a catch and release contest, eliminating the public weighing of the kill on the wharf, what many would consider the highlight of the event.

(Video from the scene in Westport by David G. Curran.)


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