Fishermen Remember Frantic Details Of Speed Boat Disaster - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/26/04

Fishermen Remember Frantic Details Of Speed Boat Disaster

Monday's investigation focused on a fenced in area of the Gulfport Coast Guard headquarters. That's where the Harrison County coroner and a DMR investigator took pictures of the speed boat. It's also where they met with the boat's manufacturer and it's engineer.

"We don't know what the cause of it is," said DMR investigator Owen Gunter. "We don't have any eyewitnesses to what it is. We're looking into anything that anybody may tell us that can be of any assistance to us."

According to Harrison County's coroner, part of the investigation will focus on future safety precautions.

"We talked about some things that they may consider doing to make the boat more safe," Gary Hargrove said.

An autopsy confirmed that Randy Linebach died Friday after suffering a punctured lung and fractured ribs.

One of the people investigators would like to talk to is off duty Biloxi fireman Ray Romero. Romero and his son happened to be fishing Friday morning near the accident scene.

"He was watching the powerboat run," Romero said, referring to his nine year old son Trey. "I was watching the airplanes flying. And he turned around and looked at me and said, 'Daddy, I think that boat just wrecked.'"

Here's how the nine year old remembered that moment.

"I didn't know it actually flipped over," he said. "All I saw was a big wave. That's when I said, 'Dad I think that boat just flipped over.'"

Romero happens to be a Biloxi fireman. So instinctually, his rescue training kicked in.

"They weren't moving. So we pulled up anchor and headed that way," said the fireman.

The Romeros arrived at the same time a second boat got there. The fireman told a passenger of that vessel to jump on his boat, take it back to the harbor, and pick up paramedics.

"And I dove in the water and swam to the powerboat," he said. "The hard part was when I left the boat, and realized I had just left my nine year old son on my boat with a stranger."

Trey said that was a bit scary. But he knew the paramedics, so that made it okay.

Back at ths scene, Romero pulled Randy Linebach onto the overturned speed boat, and started CPR. But his best efforts couldn't save the speed boat owner. Almost three days later, his thoughts turned to Linebach's family back in Michigan.

"I hope the guy's family that passed away, I hope they're doing all right. And our prayers are with them," he said.

by Brad Kessie

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