Loved ones mourn loss of ‘active’ 73-year-old Suffolk man who tragically fell overboard

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Crews recovered the body of a man who fell overboard into the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth Thursday night, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Delma "Ben" Batson

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has identified the man as Delma Batson, 73, of Suffolk.

Loved ones said he went by the name Ben.

Adriene Upsur said Ben has been her longtime boyfriend for 30 years. She is devastated by what has happened.

She said he was extremely active, a good swimmer and loved sailboats.

She can’t understand the tragedy.

“He was a fun-loving guy, and I can’t believe what happened to him. I still can’t believe what happened to him,” said Upsur.

The call came in at 9:27 p.m.

A spokesperson with the Coast Guard said he fell off a friend's boat as they were coming into the marina near the Union Bank and Trust Pavilion.

The person driving the boat saw Batson go into the water and then saw him swimming. The driver of the boat turned away for a moment before looking back and saw that Batson did not resurface.

Coast Guard crews and a Norfolk fire boat searched for Batson until about 1:20 a.m., when the Portsmouth Police Department's dive team recovered his body very close to where he went overboard.

Upser said the father of six was extremely handy and served eight years in the military.

“He did two tours in Vietnam,” said Upsur.

She said he loved to cook out, travel and have fun.

Now the family is mourning his loss and still trying to understand what happened out on the water.