Two men died after their boat capsized in the Westport River Monday morning. Another man who was with them survived, was rescued and transported to the hospital. A man who was friends with the hunters and went out with them often, spoke only to FOX 25 about how experienced the outdoorsmen were, making it all the more shocking.
Dr. Matthew Philips, friend of victim Steve James, said he died too young.
"It is just a pure tragedy, period," Phillips said.
At just 53, James of Marshfield, died Monday morning doing one of his favorite things in the world: duck hunting. While he was out hunting with two friends, his boat capsized in the Westport River.
Philips likely would have been with the other men, had he not been scheduled to be in surgery.
"We tended to hunt two, three times a week in duck season which started in November and runs until mid-January," he said.
Tuesday morning, James took two friends on his boat camouflaged with leaves and sticks. Somehow the boat capsized, both James and Robert Beecher, 55, of Connecticut died in the frigid conditions. They were later located by the Harbormaster.
James is well known in the area as the organizer of the iconic Monster Shark Tournament on Martha's Vineyard. He also was the president of the Boston Big Game Fishing Club and the Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association, a group of charter boat captains and mates.
Fishing, hunting and anything outdoors was his passion, Phillips said of James.
"And I think some of his passion was at times misunderstood particularly by opponents of fishing and hunting. He knew more about sustaining migratory fishing species such as tuna and shark than anyone else I know," Phillips said.
A third in the boat Tuesday, who did survive, somehow made it to the shore of a small island. Dr. Gregg Angell, 51, an OB/GYN at St. Luke's in New Bedford was pulled to safety.
Philips said Angell likely survived because of his physical strength.
"I recall him, one day kayaking, we were duck hunting in the Westport River and him effortlessly paddling that kayak against the current," he said.
But Philips says if Angel is one of the strongest outdoorsmen, James was one of the most experienced outdoorsmen he's ever met. And that fact makes it that much harder for him to comprehend that his friend died, doing what he had done so many times before.
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