Key West fatality

J/24 crew suffers heart attack

Monday January 19th 2004, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
A sailor had a fatal heart attack Sunday while his boat was returning to the harbor after practicing for Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004, which started today.

Marty Dwinell, 45, of Edgewater, Maryland., was a foredeck crew member on the J/24 Rumblefisch, which skipper Chuck Collins of Deale, Md. had chartered for the event. A J/24 is a sloop 24 feet in length, one of the smallest of the 301 boats competing.

Dwinell died despite a heroic effort by an unidentified paramedic who was sailing on another boat, jumped off and swam to Rumblefisch to give Dwinell CPR.

According to U.S. Coast Guard personnel, the incident occurred at 3:50 p.m. on a day of sailing in turbulent seas with winds to 18 knots and shortly before a heavy rainstorm blew through the area. However, Collins and the Coast Guard said the rough conditions were not a factor in the incident.

Collins said, "We'd had a really nice day. We went in for lunch, then went back out to sail some more and were almost all the way back in when he started to have chest pains. A guy on this other boat yelled over, 'Do you need medical assistance?' We said yes, and he just jumped in and swam over to us."

At the same time a Coast Guard boat was in the area on routine patrol in the cruise ship area near the harbor entrance. Petty Officer Bruce Day said the boat went alongside Rumblefisch when it overheard a radio distress call from the boat and saw the crew waving.

"As soon as we saw them we directed them to Mole Pier," Day said.

Coast Guard personnel administered CPR at the pier, Day said, but Dwinell was not breathing and showed no pulse. About five minutes later an EMS team arrived and tried to revive the victim with no success.

From there he was taken by ambulance to Lower Keys Memorial Hospital. Dwinell is survived by his former wife, two sons and his mother, Collins said.

"He was a great guy," Collins said.

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