Boat tuber killed in towing accident

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A powerboat towing a young man in a doughnut-shaped inflatable float accidentally killed him on June 27 when the operator returned to retrieve him after he had lost contact with the float.

Witnesses told Maryland Natural Resources police that Ryan Christopher Copeland, 22, of Chester, Md., was struck in the head by the towboat’s propeller around 6 p.m.

His boating friends immediately called 911 and he was transported by a state police helicopter to the Shock Trauma Center at University Hospital in Baltimore, where he was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m.

The victim had spent the day with 10 friends playing on the water on Thompson Creek near Stevensville off Kent Island, according to Heather Lynch, a police spokesperson. Six were on the powerboat and four were on PWCs.

“Every other time they’d come back to get him [after he repeatedly lost his grip on the float while being towed at speed]. The last time they accidentally ran him over,” she says.

No charges were filed and the driver of the boat was not identified, but an investigation was under way. Alcohol was not thought to be a factor.

The Copeland family suggests memorial donations be made to the Ryan Copeland Fund for Boating Safety Education at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis MD, 21401.