Edgewater man, 47, dies after jumping into water to fetch hat

A man who jumped off a boat in order to retrieve a hat is presumed to have drowned

An Edgewater man drowned in the South River after jumping off a boat Saturday in an attempt to retrieve a hat, officials said.

Joseph Vincent Rossi, 47, had taken his wife and two elementary school-aged children out on the Chesapeake Bay for the day in a rented boat, and they were on their way home near Turkey Point when wind blew the hat into the water and he jumped in to retrieve it, Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson said. He hadn't put the 25-foot boat in neutral, and his wife had no boating experience and couldn't stop it from moving away, Thomson said.

A pair of good Samaritans on a nearby boat saw Rossi's wife frantically waving and sprang into action, Thomson said. They caught up with the boat, and one of them jumped from their boat onto Rossi's to stop it while calling 911. The other went back to search for him, to no avail.

Emergency crews responded just after 7 p.m. and searched for an hour and half from the air and on the water, but could not find him. At 8:25 p.m. he was presumed to be dead, but crews continued the search for his body in the dark using sonar Saturday night, Anne Arundel County fire spokesman Capt. Russ Davies said. Rossi's body was recovered about 10 a.m. Sunday and sent to the medical examiner for an autopsy, Thomson said.

Despite the outcome, Thomson praised the two good Samaritans, who she said "rose to the occasion."

"Jumping from one moving boat to another moving boat — it's certainly not in the manual," she said. "They did everything in their power to bring about a good outcome."

It was the third boating fatality in Maryland this year, following the deaths of two duck hunters on the Severn River on Jan. 19, Thomson said.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

iduncan@baltsun.com

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