Boating tragedy claims local ma: Son refuses to let go of father after boat capsizes on Lake Ont.
- Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 13 Sep 2006, p. 1, 3
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A Georgetown man remembered as someone who "would help anyone", died off Port Credit in Lake Ontario when his aluminum boat suddenly began to draw water and capsized Sunday morning. Albert "Roger" Richards, 55, died within moments of hitting the water said his son Bryan Richards, who along with his girlfriend Elizabeth Sutton, was also in the boat. For almost 90 minutes after it sank, Richards and Sutton hung on for dear life, bobbing up and down in three-metre waves, desperately waiting for help. "My dad started panicking," Richards, also of Georgetown, said Sunday from his hospital bed at the Trillium Health Centre, where he was being treated for hypothermia. "I reached over and grabbed him, and as I pulled him back he turned around and said `I'm cold,' and then passed away." Richards said the three had gone out on their boat called the Left-Handed Newfie around 7:30 a.m. to take part in a salmon derby. Around 9:30 a.m., just as they were in the process of changing lures on a downrigger system, the boat suddenly began to draw water at the back and went down, stern first, throwing all three into the water. "It went back, up, down," said Richards, describing how his girlfriend managed to grab on to a life jacket for herself in the nick of time. He didn't have a life jacket on, but was laying flat across a floating seat from the boat, all the while clinging to his dead father. Police said it was unknown if the father was wearing a life jacket, but his son said he was. Richards said while he bobbed in the waves holding onto his dead father, he tried to keep in touch with Sutton, encouraging each other to stay conscious and saying they loved each other, he said. He said throughout the experience rage built inside because he had his father in his arms and just wanted to get Sutton to safety. "This is a dream and I want it to end right now," he recalled thinking, but since it wasn't, he thought about his mother and his girlfriend's 14-month-old baby. "I wanted to do more, but I couldn't," he said. "I wasn't going to let my father go." Several fishing boats passed by, but nobody saw them, until one passerby finally noticed them and immediately radioed a distress signal around 11 a.m. That was when police and other boaters converged on the scene to mount the rescue. Richards, a shipper and receiver with PL Foods in Georgetown, and Sutton were taken to Trillium Health Centre. Sutton was discharged late Sunday afternoon, while Richards was kept overnight for observation. Richards said his father, whose passion was fishing, was on disability from a workplace accident in a brake factory that had resulted in his right leg being amputated. He said his father, whom he called his dearest friend, had taken part in countless fishing derbies in the area over the decades. "All I know is that I won't step on another boat," said Richards. "I may not even go fishing anymore. It was "our" thing." Among the first on the rescue scene were Peter Fairweather and Dan Lotual of Oakville, who found Bryan Richards and Sutton shivering in another fisherman's boat. Richards was reaching over the stern holding onto his father's leg, unable to pull him over the gunwhale. "There was no way to hoist him. He was a pretty big guy," said Fairweather. They hooked a rope around Richards' leg so his son could be treated by police and paramedics. Roger Richards' brother-in-law John (Jack) Stufko of Georgetown said the man was going to be "greatly missed." "He had a heart as big as all outdoors and he would help anyone," said Stufko, who added the man was not only his brother-in-law, but his best friend. "He's helped Linda (Stufko's spouse) and I out so much in the past," he said. He said Richards loved fishing and had fished all over Ontario. He said although his boat was called the Left-Handed Newfie, his brother-in-law was not from Newfoundland. He moved to Canada from England several years ago and had lived in Georgetown for about 30 years. "That (the boat's name) was a trademark of Roger's sense of humour. He was a real character," said Stufko, who believes Richards named the boat after a friend. Stufko said Richards had health problems as he was diabetic and had suffered a heart attack in the past. He believes he suffered a heart attack in the water Sunday. At press time a spokesperson for Peel Regional Police said the results of a post mortem confirm that the cause of death was not drowning, and that Richards heart stoppage was due in part to hypothermia. Richards is survived by his wife Donna, children Patrick and Bryan and his mother Sarah. Visitation will be at J.S. Jones & Son Funeral Home tomorrow (Thursday) from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. The funeral and committal service will be held in the chapel Friday at 1 p.m.
- Tallyn, Lisa
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- Date of Publication:
- 13 Sep 2006
- Personal Name(s):
- Richards, Albert (Roger) ; Richards, Byran ; Sutton, Elizabeth ; Fairweather, Peter ; Lotual, Dan ; Stufko, John (Jack)
- Corporate Name(s):
- Trillium Health Centre ; PL Foods ; Peel Regional Police
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- Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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