Canoeist missing since Monday is presumed dead

Maryland Natural Resources Police continued their search yesterday for the body of a McDonogh School graduate presumed dead after a canoe carrying him and a friend capsized this week during an Eastern Shore duck-hunting trip.

Volunteer firefighters and members of the Somerset County Sheriff's Department joined the search team in its third attempt to locate Matthew B. Cowdrey, 20, of Easton, who plunged into the freezing waters off the Big Annemessex River about 8:30 a.m. Monday, said Cpl. Ken Turner, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources police.


Turner said Cowdrey, a 2003 graduate of the Baltimore County private school, and two friends were finishing a duck hunt in a marsh near Frenchtown. High winds pushed the small craft carrying him and Andrew D. Stenecker, 20, also of Easton, about 150 feet from shore before it overturned.

Stenecker's body was recovered in an offshore cove about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Turner said. The other hunter, 20-year-old Chad M. Haschen of Easton, witnessed the accident from his kayak and paddled to shore, calling 911 on a cell phone.


Still stunned by the accident, Haschen said yesterday that their outing turned tragic in a matter of minutes.

"The wind was so strong. They couldn't get the boat turned back into the wind," Haschen said in a telephone interview. "That's when it rolled over. ... It just went downhill too fast from there."

Turner said members of the nearby Fairmount Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene about 15 minutes after the men plunged into the water, calling it a "very quick" response in light of the hunters' remote location.

Turner said the Coast Guard had issued a small-craft advisory the day of the incident and police believe the two men were not wearing life jackets.

Yesterday's search was called off about 3 p.m. when snowy, freezing weather made conditions hazardous, Turner said.

A spokesman for McDonogh said faculty members and students mourned yesterday at an organized gathering.

"It was a chance for them to share memories of Matt, to express their grief and to just have some private time together to make sense of things," said spokeswoman Lynn McKain.

Cowdrey transferred from Easton High School to McDonogh after his sophomore year and had been active in lacrosse and football.


Turner said the search would resume today, weather permitting.