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New York firefighter dies in boat crash

The body of a New Rochelle, N.Y., firefighter was pulled from Stamford (Conn.) Harbor on Monday after the boat he was driving rammed the harbor's east breakwall and flipped.

Keith Morris, 30, was driving the boat with his brother and three others when the accident happened about 11:20 p.m. Sunday, police told the Stamford Advocate.

The four others — two men and two women — were taken to shore in Greenwich, Conn., after being rescued about 1:15 a.m.
Officials told the newspaper that none were wearing life jackets.

The five people on board were returning to New Rochelle on a 27-foot Sea Ray after a night at the Crab Shell restaurant.

A man and a woman were trapped inside the boat for about 45 minutes after the accident, which took place as Morris was trying to steer out of the harbor.

He apparently veered off course and out of the channel leading to Long Island Sound, slamming his boat into the east breakwall about 100 feet outside the channel, Stamford Police Marine Sgt. Peter Wolff told the paper. Instead of leaving the channel and turning right toward New Rochelle, Morris turned left before leaving the harbor.

When Stamford Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Trevor Roach got to the overturned boat on Sunday, he heard cries for help coming from a man and a woman trapped in an air pocket in the bow of the boat.

"We have never done one similar to this," Roach told the paper. "We have never had live and alert victims. The psychology of the victim as you are trying to move them, it's a whole new game."

Roach said it took rescue diver Joe Maida at least 10 minutes to work his way through a dislodged Bimini top, broken dashboard and windshield and through the 18-inch wide companionway entrance to the cabin.

One of the trapped passengers panicked and refused to leave the quickly-narrowing air pocket.

For the next half hour, the divers worked with her until their own air supplies and the air inside the cabin were close to running out. At that point, the divers put the regulator on her mouth and pulled her through.

Click here for the story of the rescue and click here for a report on the body recovery.