Wife of rescued duck hunter speaks out

Gregg Angell

Two hunters are dead and another is recovering from hypothermia at Rhode Island Hospital after the small boat they were duck hunting in capsized in the Westport River in Westport Tuesday morning.

Steven James, 53, of Marshfield, MA, and Robert Becher, 55, of Cromwell, CT died.

Gregg Angell, a doctor from Westport, was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter and airlifted to the hospital in Providence.

Angell's wife, Lorraine Lubiejewski, told NBC10, that the three men were avid and experienced hunters, fishermen, and outdoorsmen.

They left her house in Westport around 5:30 Tuesday morning to duck hunt, which they did regularly.

Lubiejewski told NBC10, "I still can't get it yet. They were all here having breakfast. They were all going to go out and hunt ducks and have a good old day and it turned into this tragedy that I just can't even fathom."

She said the weather was not anything out of the ordinary for them to hunt in. "It was definitely cold and nasty out there but nothing unusual and next thing I know I have Westport Police knocking at my door."

Police came to say the boat had been found upside down floating in the river around 8 o'clock with no sign of the men.

The bodies of James and Becher were recovered at the town's Cherry and Webb beach.

Angell was then spotted on a patch of land called Corey's Island.

Lubiejewski said, "He just kind of remembered that the boat was taking on a little bit of water and next thing he knew it just capsized and that was it. It happened just like that, very quickly. He just knew to swim to a sand bar because he knew the area pretty well, the Westport River, so that's what he did. He swam and I can't even believe it, that he survived that."

"His worst fear was that he was in camouflage so that nobody was going to see him. So he was like, if I take this off then I'll freeze. So he had to make a decision. But he kept it on and that's what saved his life actually."

But the two friends are now gone.

Steven James headed the Boston Big Game Fishing Club and organized an annual shark fishing tournament off Martha's Vineyard.

Robert Becher's truck, boat, and dog, are at Angell's home, where he was staying for a few days as they hunted.

"They were the greatest guys in the world, Steve and Rob," Lubiejewski said. "Just avid hunters, good old fellas, just want to have a good time, you know."

Angell has frostbite on his fingertips and knees and his wife says his core body temperature was 80 degrees when he arrived at the hospital.

"He's actually doing pretty good. He's definitely shaken up. He's scared. He doesn't know how to take it all in right now."

Angell is expected to be in the hospital a couple of days.