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Husband, wife from Virginia die in personal watercraft accident in Maryland

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A husband and wife from Reston died in a personal watercraft accident on Wednesday in Maryland, officials said, bringing the number of water-related deaths in the state this year to 11.

The couple’s deaths are also the fifth and sixth water-related fatalities in Anne Arundel County since Saturday, according to a fire department spokesman.

The incident occurred about 2 a.m. Wednesday on the South River near the Route 2 bridge in Edgewater, according to Capt. Russ Davies, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.

Eleven people have died this year in nine incidents on the state’s waterways, said Capt. Melissa Scarborough, a spokeswoman with the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

In the latest incident, officials said rescuers received a 911 call early Wednesday indicating the couple had gone missing on a personal watercraft, similar to a Jet Ski, on the South River. Witnesses told authorities that the couple left a home about 1:30 a.m. in the 200 block of Edgewater Drive.

Witnesses said they heard “the sound of a collision” at about 1:45 a.m. and called for help after the couple did not return, Davies said. Rescuers found a partially submerged personal watercraft in the river. Fire officials said both victims were recovered from the water about 5:15 a.m.

The victims were identified as Elizabeth Howle, 48, and Jeffrey Sessions, 53. Scarborough said the victims were not wearing life jackets, and it is not known whether alcohol was a factor.

Off-duty Secret Service agent on presidential protective detail dies in Md. kayaking accident

Davies said it appeared the personal watercraft hit a type of “navigational aid,” such as a utility pole, in the water.

The deaths are the latest fatalities in Anne Arundel County in recent days.

On Saturday, Stephanie Hancock, a 39-year-old off-duty Secret Service agent on presidential protective detail, died in a kayaking accident near Horn Point. She had been with the Secret Service since 2007.

In another incident Saturday, two men — identified as Mark Vetock, 27, of Glen Burnie, Md., and Tevin Calhoun, 27, of Pasadena, Md, — went missing while crabbing in Stoney Creek and were found dead Monday. Another Glen Burnie man, who worked as a marine mechanic, was found in Curtis Bay after he had taken a broken-down boat out for a test run and did not return. Scarborough said he went overboard, but it is not clear how.

Davies said officials are “concerned about the trend” of water-related deaths in the area. He reminded boaters to wear life jackets and to let others know where they are going on the water and when they expect to return. Boaters should also avoid operating watercraft while impaired and ensure vessels are equipped to be taken on the water at night if used after sunset.

Earlier this week, the Maryland Natural Resources Police launched an effort to promote boating safety over the Fourth of July weekend, which will include additional patrols.

July and August are typically when about half of Maryland’s annual boating accidents happen. By this time last year, the state also had 11 boating fatalities, two more than for all of 2017, according to state police officials.

Scarborough said the spate of recent water-related deaths is “a little above average.” Of the 11 water-related deaths this year, only one person was wearing a life jacket, in an incident that occurred in mid-May, official said.