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Three Rescued from Death in Tragic Mishap off Grindstone Island
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Three Rescued from Death

in

Tragic Mishap off Grindstone Island

1939

 

River Pilot among Missing

 

   ALBERT, June 4 -- (Special) -- The chill waters of Shepody Bay were believed to have taken three lives early this morning in one of the most tragic incidents in the history of the Albert County coast.

                Those believed dead were:

                Charles Copp, 52, river pilot of Upper New Horton, Albert County.

                His nephew, Lloyd Copp, 23, Upper New Horton

                Osborne Long, 17, Harvey Bank, Albert County

   Swept into the bay when their small boat's mast struck the hawser between the tugboat, Foremost 43, and a pulp laden barge, the men have been unreported and are given chance of having been able to swim to safety in the swirling gale-tossed water.

 

HARRIS BREWSTER ESCAPES DEATH

   Harris Brewster, 16, son of Alex Brewster, Harvey, was aboard the pilot boat but he climbed into the boat's tender and was later taken onto the tugboat, continuing to Saint John. 

   Also believed to have escaped drowning were Hugh Wright, 48, Hopewell Hill, lightkeeper on Grindstone Island, and Leonard Nickerson, 35, Harvey. Constable Frank Russell, R.C.M.P. officer stationed at Albert, said he thought Nickerson and Wright had reached Grindstone Island in a small rowboat. 

   Out of the welter of unsubstantiated reports which surrounded the story that shocked the whole county, the following brief description of the events that led to the tragedy was believed accurate:

   Pilot Charles Copp had boarded the tugboat, Foremost 43, at Harvey Bank and the tugboat had taken in tow a pulp-laden barge, bound for Saint John. Copp piloted the tugboat down the Petitcodiac River and into Shepody Bay. 

 

   

Leaves at Five Fathom

 

     At Five Fathom Hole, between Grindstone Island and St. Mary's Point, the "pilot boat" was hove to, waiting to take the pilot boat ashore.  As the pilot boat reached the Foremost 43, Pilot Copp jumped and landed on the engine of the pilot boat, disabling it.

     The pilot boat drifted astern under the bows of the barge. Its mast struck the hawser, spilling six men into the sea. Brewster, Wright and Nickerson clambered into the tender which had been tied to the pilot boat. Brewster was taken aboard the Foremost 43 and the other two men were believed to have rowed to the Island.

      Wright was returning to the lighthouse with supplies. Lloyd Copp, the pilot's nephew, usually handled the pilot boat, carrying Pilot Copp out to meet boats and picking him up at the end of his runs.  The boys, Long and Brewster, had gone along for the sail.

       A brutal tide rips into the channel between the point and the island and this morning a high wind lashed the water. There was little hope bodies would be recovered, although there was a possibility the tide would leave them, sooner or later, along the banks of the bay.

 

Thought to be Safe

 

       It was believed probable Wright and Nickerson had reached the safety of the island but it was not assured.  No motorboat was available along the shore and two men who made an attempt today to reach the island in a rowboat were compelled to turn back by the high seas.

       Constable Russell, of the Mounties, told The Times last night he had recognized Nickerson through binoculars. The Mountie said he had seen three men on the island.  He presumed the other two were Hugh Wright, the lightkeeper, and his assistant, Gordon Wright.  The officer said an attempt would be made tomorrow to get to the island and confirm his theories.

        Charles and Lloyd Copp and Osborne Long were unmarried.  Lloyd, the pilot's nephew, was a son of Robert Copp, and is survived by two sisters and three brothers, Gordon, Howard and Thomas, all of Upper New Horton.

         Osborne Long was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Crandall Long, a farmer at Harvey Bank, and is survived as well by two brothers and two sisters.

                                                

 

Accompanies Tugboat

 

SAINT JOHN, N.B.,   June 4 -----Three persons were believed drowned and three survived when a motorboat capsized before dawn today off Harvey Bank, Albert County, near the head of the Bay of Fundy.

          The tragedy occurred soon after the Saint John tugboat Foremost 43 left Harvey Bank about midnight towing a pulpwood-laden barge toward Saint John.  The motorboat accompanied the Foremost 43 to take Charles Copp back to shore after he piloted the tugboat out into the bay.

          Finishing his job, Copp jumped from the tug to the smaller boat.  He landed on the engine and disabled it by breaking a rod.  The helpless motorboat then swung under the towline and overturned when the boat's mast fouled against the hawser.

          Pilot Copp, his nephew and Long disappeared in the rough water.  Brewster was hauled aboard the tug.  Wright and Nickerson scrambled into a rowboat which the motorboat had been towing.

          After a long search for the missing trio the tug continued to Saint John.  It towed the motorboat for ten miles before losing it when the line broke. 

 

Captain's Statement

 

     Captain William G. Hurley, of the tugboat, said:  "We left here at 2.25 o'clock, Atlantic Daylight Time, Saturday afternoon and anchored off Grindstone Island at 10.10 pm. We started in for Harvey Bank at midnight to meet the pilot on his way in his motorboat.  We got him aboard about 12.10 a.m. and proceeded up the creek to Harvey Bank for the barge which was waiting for us, loaded with pulpwood for Saint John.

      "We left with the tow at 1.05 o'clock and Pilot Copp at the wheel.  The pilot had sent his boat with four others in it out to Grindstone Island to pick up Mr. Wright who wished to come ashore while they were waiting for the tug and barge to leave Harvey Bank.  I was told it was understood by the men in the motorboat and Pilot Copp they were to lie off the buoy at Grindstone Island and take the pilot from the tug when we put out to sea.

      "We continued to the island and when we were close to the buoy, some 400 or 500 yards from Grindstone, the pilot boarded his boat.  The motorboat came up on the wrong side, the weather side, in rough water about 1.45 a.m., and Pilot Copp leaped into her, as we had almost stopped.

       "I had warned him to be careful and take his time.  When he jumped he landed on top of the engine.  He struck either the switch or the wires, causing the engine to stop. The motorboat then sheered away from the tug and drifted under the bow of the barge, causing the 15-foot mast in the boat to foul the hawser on the barge which was still moving slowly ahead.  The weight of the hawser on the mast caused the boat to tip over, throwing some of the six men into the water.

 

Three Get Into Tender

     "Three were able to get into the tender towed astern of the motorboat and the other men could not be located. Young Brewster was brought aboard of the '43' as the tender came alongside and then the remaining two rowed back towards the motorboat which was drifting, filled but upright, by the stern of the barge.

      "While the men in the tender kept searching for the missing men, the tug made the circle around with the barge to prevent the 60 or so fathoms of line from fouling our rudder or propeller, took the drifting motorboat in tow behind the barge and kept circling to rescue the men in the tender.

       "We could see them rowing towards Grindstone Island.  We continued after them, hailing them to come back, but they did not pay attention, just kept rowing for the Island.  The last I saw of them they were quite close to it.

        "The tide had been about on the turn when we left Harvey Bank, so by the time we could get the hawser in and the barge anchored we did not think we had time to go back to Harvey bank and report. This was about 2.25 in the morning and there was a strong set of tide against us, so we figured Saint John was the place that could be reached first. 

   “If we had continued any closer to Grindstone Island we would have gone on the ledges with the tug and barge. There were three men under my care on the barge and nine besides myself on the tug as well as young Brewster.
    “While it was a bright, moonlight night, the water was very black. We placed out searchlights over the water and boats but there was not a sign of the three men who must have gone down. Off
Cape Enrage coming down the bay, about 12 miles from the scene of the drowning, we lost the motorboat in heavy seas. The accident happened on the north side of the island.”  

 BODIES OF TWO VICTIMS SHEPODY BAY TRAGEDY ARE TAKEN FROM WATER

Bodies of Chas. Copp, Up.

New Hortton, Osborne Long,

Harvey Bank,

Recovered 

INQUEST TODAY 

The bodies of Charles A. Copp, 58 year-old river pilot of Upper New Horton and Osborne Long, 17, of Harvey Banks, Albert County, were taken from the water of Shepody Bay Saturday night, forty-one days after they were drowned in one of the Bay’s most tragic incidents. Last night the bodies were resting at Tuttle Brother’s under taking parlors awaiting the opening of an inquest into the tragedy which occurred June 4, when the small boat in which they were sailing became entangled in a hawser between the tugboat, Foremost 43, and a pulp-laden barge, lost its mast and was swept out into the bay.

   The sinking of the little boat in which Copp and Osborne lost their lives also claimed the life of Lloyd Copp, a nephew to Charles Copp. His body has not been found. Others aboard the little craft who escaped death were: Harris Brewster, of Harvey, Albert County; Hugh Wright, of Grindstone Island and Leonard Nickerson, of Harvey, Albert County. Brewster escaped by climbing into the pilot boat’s tender and was picked up by the tugboat. Wright, who is the lighthouse keeper on Grindstone Island, and Nickerson, made their way to the Island, and safety, in the tender.

Sighted Floated Bodies

The bodies were taken from the water early Saturday evening by Captain Gilbert LeBlanc and Seaman Sam Gautreau of the motor scow “Annie B” in route to Moncton wharf with a cargo of gravel.
   Sailing up the bay with the in coming tide, Captain LeBlanc and Seaman Gautreau both noticed a floating body at the same time, about one mile below Grindstone Island, Seaman Gautreau told The Times in an interview aboard the scow yesterday afternoon. The second body was found two hours later at
Cape Rock, about eight miles farther up the bay, he said. The first body was found about 6 pm.

Placed Aboard Scow 

   The bodies were places aboard the scow and brought to the wharf here. R.C.M. Police were notified of the discovery and R.C.M.P. Police Constable Stuart Lavers proceeded to the wharf to take charge of the bodies. They were later conveyed to Tuttle Brothers where they were identified as the remains of Charles Copp and Osborne Long.

   The bodies were tentatively identified by City Police Officer Ira Wilbur through papers found in the pockets of Charles Copp and by the general height of Long. Following this identification, Officer Wilbur and R.C.M.P. Constable Leavers went to Harvey and New Horton and brought Robert Copp, brother of the drowned man, and Crandall Long, Harvey Bank, father of Osborne Long, to the city, where they viewed the bodies.

   Positive identification of the body of Copp was made by the contents of his pockets and Long was known by his father because of his size and the clothes that clung to his body.

   Coronor Dr. A. R. Myers was summoned and after viewing the bodies called an inquest into the tragedy for this morning at 11 o’clock at Tuttle Brothers. Constable Lavers was charged to empanel a jury.

   The jury will view the remains this morning and following this the remains of the two men will be taken to Harvey Point, Albert County, for burial in Bayview Cemetery.

Bodies Drowning Victims Buried In Albert County

   ALBERT, Albert Co., July 17, 1939 (Special) – The bodies of Osborne Long and Charles Copp were laid to rest in the Bayview Cemetery, at Harvey Bank, today after a service at two o’clock, Atlantic Standard Time. Drowned in the waters of Shepody Bay off Grindstone on June 4, their bodies were recovered Saturday night.

   Rev. D. W. Colwell, of Hillsboro, conducted the service for Osborne Long. Rev. B M. Prangnell, of Harvey, conducted the funeral services for Mr. Copp.

   The pallbearers were Ray Pearson, Ezra White, Arnold Long, Trueman Kennie, and Howard Stewart.

   A memorial service for the two drowning victims was held some time ago in St. Alban’s Anglican Church, Riverside.

 

 Submitted by: Lawrence (Larry) Hughes

 

 

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