Shore teen is injured when boat runs over him


A 17-year-old Eastern Shore boy run over by his boat in a crabbing accident on the Wye River yesterday was listed in fair and stable condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center with deep cuts in his back and left arm.

The boy was identified as Robert M. Pfeiffer Jr., 17, of Bennetts Point near Queenstown in Queen Anne's County.

His grandmother, Jean Pfeiffer of Brooklyn Park, said surgeons at the shock trauma unit expected to use several hundred stitches to close wounds on the teen's back and arm.

"It could be as many as 700," the grandmother said she was told.

The boy's left arm was reportedly nearly severed by the propellers and is being held together by pins, Mrs. Pfeiffer said.

Sgt. Morris Jones of the Maryland Natural Resources Police said the youth was flown to the shock trauma center by a MedEvac helicopter after being rescued by Lonnie Gebhardt, of the 8200 block of Philadelphia Road in Baltimore County.

The boy's grandfather, James Pfeiffer, credited the MedEvac service with saving his grandson's life.

"They busted a gut to get him to the hospital," Mr. Pfeiffer said last night at his Brooklyn Park home.

Mrs. Pfeiffer said the injured youth was crabbing more than two miles southwest of his waterfront home on the Wye River about 11:15 a.m. yesterday when the wake of a passing boat caused his 23-foot Seahawk workboat to rock.

"He told me at the hospital that when his boat began to rock, he leaned over to prevent the basket of crabs he caught from being upset," said his grandmother.

She said when the boy let go of the wheel, the craft made a sharp turn, causing him to fall over the side.

She said the boy was trying to swim out of the way of the circling boat when its propellers raked him across the back and arm.

"He didn't know he was hit until he raised one arm to swim away and it just hung in the water," Mrs. Pfeiffer said.

Sergeant Jones said the youth was in danger of bleeding to death or drowning when he was spotted by Mr. Gebhardt and his wife, who were boating nearby.

The sergeant said Mr. Gebhardt got into a skiff tied to the stern of his cruiser, paddled out to the Pfeiffer youth and got him aboard.

After placing the boy on his cruiser, Mr. Gebhardt used his VHF radio to summon an ambulance from the Grasonville Fire Department. By the time Mr. Gebhardt reached shore, an ambulance was waiting for them.

After young Pfeiffer was transported to an open field, he was placed onto the helicopter and flown to Baltimore.

The props came very close to severing his lungs and his spinal column, the grandmother said she was told.

Mrs. Pfeiffer said the surgeons decided to wait a day or two before they closed the seven long and deep lacerations caused by the props.

"They want to clean out the wounds real good and get any contaminated water from the river out before they use stitches," she said.

She said the surgeons want to prevent infection before they close the gaping wounds.

Mrs. Pfeiffer said her grandson, a member of the Queen Anne's County High School football team, was to enter his senior year in September.

In an unrelated incident, a boy apparently drowned yesterday after jumping into the Susquehanna River near the Pennsylvania line.

Police said the youth's body was recovered from the river around 3:30 p.m. His name was being withheld pending notification of relatives.

Witnesses told police the boy was diving into the water from cliffs about 50 feet above the river when he failed to surface.

Police said the body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy.

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