EDGEWATER, Md. (WJZ) — Two people were killed overnight in a jet ski crash in Anne Arundel County.
Neighbors said the couple, Jeffrey Sessions, 53, and Elizabeth Howle, 48, both of Reston, Virginia, went out at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and never returned.
Police said the couple took multiple risks when they took jet skis out on the South River without life jackets.
James Chartrand showed WJZ where the jet ski struck a navigational aid in the river.
“And if you look hard enough, you can see where they bent out the ladder,” Chartrand said.
They were both found deceased in the water around 5:15 a.m.
Officials said a call came in a 2:30 a.m. that the pair had not returned from jet skiing.
Witnesses told officials the two left a residence in the 200 block of Edgewater Dr. after 1:30 a.m. They also reported hearing the sound of a collision around 1:45 a.m.
“There are obviously significant navigational constraints with the darkness,” said Russ Davies with Anne Arundel County Fire Department.
Officials said that the pair had hit a lighted daymarker. The man struck the pylon and the woman was found a thousand feet away.
Their jet ski was found partially submerged and there was corresponding damage to a navigational aid in the South River.
“I’m trying to figure out why he didn’t know it was there because he knows the waterway. He has two big boats,” Chartrand said.
Neighbors said the couple was in their 50s.
They weren’t wearing life jackets and officials said at this time they cannot comment on whether the pair were under the influence. They are awaiting toxicology reports to come back.
The couple marks the fifth and sixth deaths on the water in Anne Arundel County since Saturday, which was one of the deadliest days on Maryland waters — when six people died in seven hours.
Police also said it is illegal to operate a jet ski after dark.
“It’s frustrating personally, and it’s frustrating professionally,” Col. Robert Ziegler, Superintendent DNR Police said. “Natural Resources Police, our main goal before writing citations or anything like that is to keep people safe and keep people alive and it’s such a simple process,”
Natural Resources Police said drowning is typically the leading cause of death on the water, but it appears trauma played a significant role Wednesday morning.
“It’s very ominous in what the next four days may bring,” Davies said.
At a media briefing to kick off the holiday weekend, law enforcement agencies hammered home three big boating safety tips:
- Don’t drink and operate watercrafts.
- Know the weather forecast.
- Always wear a life jacket.
Sessions’ company Red River released a statement Wednesday about his death:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the unexpected and sudden passing of our Chief Executive Officer Jeff Sessions. The entire Red River family mourns this loss. Jeff led our company with intelligence, humor, integrity and passion. The contributions he made to the transformation of our business cannot be measured. Jeff’s impact on Red River, our people and the communities we serve will forever be felt. On behalf of our management team and employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to Jeff’s family.”