Maryland Men Have No Regrets After Ill-Fated Hurricane Sandy Rafting Trip To Walmart

The risk to their lives after Superstorm Sandy was not sufficient to change the minds of two friends who took booze and an inflatable raft on a trip in the raging Monocacy River, according to a Frederick County Sheriff's Office incident report.

Marvin Lee Kingsbury and Charles Kent Bowers planned to float about five miles Oct. 30 using a rubber raft they rigged with a piece of plywood in the bottom and swim noodles for stability in the floodwaters, according to the incident report The Frederick News-Post obtained through a Maryland Public Information Act request.

The men took a waterproof cooler full of whiskey sours on the trip from Devilbiss Bridge Road to Walmart on Monocacy Boulevard.

Contacted Monday by The News-Post, Bowers said they intended to drink the whiskey sours "like the victory cigar" when they reached their destination at Walmart. He said there were more turns and curves in the current than expected.

Additionally, Bowers said he had not changed his view about the trip and would do it again.

"Absolutely, better boat next time," Bowers said.

Bowers also noted that law enforcement did not charge the two men with any crimes.

Kingsbury did not respond to a request for comment.

The men wore life jackets for the trip, "and didn't see the danger in it," according to the incident report. One witness in the report told the men "they were crazy," and Kingsbury's wife "begged them not to go and refused to pick them up at (Walmart)."

When the friend who did agree to pick them up informed Kingsbury's wife that they never arrived at the Walmart, she went to the river, found her husband's coat floating and thought he was dead, the report states.

The lark in floodwaters could have cost them and their rescuers their lives, investigators said. Sheriff's deputies, fire and rescue personnel and Maryland State Police troopers responded at about 2:15 p.m. to the Monocacy River where Kingsbury and Bowers were holding on to trees in the river near Devilbiss Bridge Road in Walkersville.

"(T)heir boat had capsized, and they were clinging to trees screaming for help," the report stated.

Troopers and deputies in life vests came to the river with rescue ropes. Rain was falling, and the temperature was reported to be 35 degrees.

"The terrain was steep, wet, and slippery," the report states.

The current had swept Kingsbury too far into a bunch of trees for a life line from the bank to reach him or for a boat to get to him, according to the report. He clung to a tree with both hands, so he could not easily grab a life ring.

"He had been losing his grip on the tree, and he was submerged just below the shoulders," the report states.

He was not able to respond verbally to emergency crews because he was holding a plastic bag in his teeth the whole time. It held Bowers' cellphone, and he said he did not want to drop it.

Walkersville Fire Co. used a ladder truck with a bucket to extend over the raging water. Rescuers threw Kingsbury a life ring from there.

"Seconds after he got the life ring over his head and left shoulder, he lost his grip and fell into the water. He was completely submerged for about 15 seconds," according to the report.

Eventually, he was pulled to the bank, where he was treated for exposure and minor injuries to a leg before being taken to the hospital.

Bowers was rescued by boat. He was wedged in a tree fork about 25 yards from the deputies on shore. He was not injured, according to the report, but was taken to the hospital to be checked.

After the rescue, both men showed no regret for having caused the emergency, according to the report.

"(Kingsbury) advised that his wife would be furious with him," the report states.

"At no time did (Bowers) think it was dangerous," the report stated. He said firefighters and police officers rescue people every day, "so it wasn't any different," according to the report.

"He had no remorse for putting anyone else in danger and did not comprehend that he was lucky to be alive," according to the report.

Kingsbury asked a trooper to go back to the river to look for the cooler, which held his cellphone.

The trooper "informed him that due to the raging waters and the danger they pose to anyone that ventures near them, no attempt would be made to locate his cooler."

A trooper told Kingsbury's wife to notify the sheriff's office if the men attempted to make the trip again, and the trooper "believes they will," the report stated.

"Deputies will respond down to the ramp and not allow them to enter the raging waters," the report stated. ___

(c)2012 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.)

Visit The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.) at www.fredericknewspost.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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