Newport News, Va. – Virginia Marine Police are still investigating after two people were killed when a boat they were in overturned Sunday afternoon.
Newport News Fire Department responded to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission pier at the 600 block of Jefferson Avenue after receiving the call of an overturned boat in the James River near the Monitor Merrimac tunnel.
When firefighters arrived on scene they found several victims in the water, holding on to ropes thrown in from bystanders at the pier.
Firefighters tell us there were five people on the 1975 Manatee boat when it overturned. Two of the five were killed in the accident.
The victims have been identified as 52-year-old Philip Earl Smallwood and 51-year-old William T. Smallwood, Jr. The men were cousins.
Firefighters were able to rescue the three other people. Two of them were transported to local hospitals and one was treated on scene.
They have been identified as Felicia Roy, Theresa Coleman, and Jonathan Turner.
Preliminary evidence revealed that the boat was overloaded by the five passengers and coolers. The boat was swamped after the engine failed.
VMRC says lifejackets were on board, and some victims might have been wearing them, but they were found floating, and in bad condition, so they might not have worked properly.
The boat has been impounded and it and the engine are being investigated for any mechanical issues that may have contributed.