Two hunters die after boat capsizes off Westport

Gregg Angell of Westport

Authorities have identified two duck hunters who died and a third who was hospitalized after they fell into the frigid waters of the Westport River when their boat capsized.

A spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney's Office said the two victims were 53-year-old Steven James, of Marshfield, Mass., and 55-year-old Robert Becher, of Cromwell, Conn.

The surviving man, 51-year-old Gregg Angell, of Westport, was transported to Rhode Island Hospital. He was listed in fair condition.

NBC 10 reports Angell is a practicing gynecologist, and works out of an office in New Bedford.

Authorities said a River Road resident noticed a capsized boat in the waters of the Westport River at about 8 a.m. The resident notified the Westport harbormaster, who then notified police and fire officials.

"The water is a great place to have fun and do things, but you've got to respect it. It can swallow you up," said Richard Earle, Westport harbormaster.

Authorities said police found a vehicle and went to the home of the vehicle's registered owner and confirmed the person and two others had gone out on the river to duck hunt early Tuesday morning.

Earle located the boat, described as a skiff, and brought it to shore.

Authorities said the bodies of James and Becher were found short time later at the town's Cherry and Webb Beach. Angell was rescued from the river by a Coast Guard helicopter crew.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Robert Simpson said the water temperature was about 35 degrees and the air temperature was about 8 degrees at the time.

Based on the hunters' camouflaged boat, Earle said he thinks they knew what they were doing. He said he's keeping the families of the victims in his thoughts.

"The fact that we got three out of three back, and maybe one will survive, they'll be able to have closure. Sometimes the ocean just swallows people up," Earle said.

The district attorney's spokesman said the deaths were not considered suspicious.

The deaths remain under investigation.

NBC 10's Cierra Putman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.