The men, whose names were not released Thursday pending next-of-kin notification, were believed to have taken the 17-foot outboard motor boat fishing Tuesday. When they did not return they were reported missing.
U.S. Coast Guard personnel searched within the Georgia Intercoastal Waterway early Thursday, but did not locate the boat. After 2 p.m. a Savannah-Chatham police helicopter finally discovered the vessel with the men inside stranded in a marsh area near a dock just west of Skidaway’s affluent South Harbor neighborhood.
The men had already died by the time first responders reached them, said Julian Miller, police spokesman.
Police and Georgia Department of Natural Resources investigators immediately began to search the marshy area of the Burnside River just off Noble View Road in an attempt to determine what happened, Miller said.
The boat, that investigation determined, likely hit the dock sometime overnight before drifting into the marsh, Miller said.
Georgia DNR rangers took the lead in the investigation, but Thursday evening they had not determined what killed the men, said DNR Capt. Doug Lewis, who oversees the department’s Brunswick Law Enforcement office that’s coverage area includes Chatham County. Investigators did not suspect foul play in the incident.
Late Thursday, Lewis said, rangers had not been able to move the boat from the marsh which stalled their investigation.
“We’re waiting for the tide to come in to be able to remove the boat,” Lewis said. “After we do that we can get a better idea what happened and have more information probably tomorrow.”
Thursday’s boating deaths marked the second fatal boating incident along Chatham County’s coast within two weeks. Charles Daniel Cason, 31, of Tybee Island, was found dead of drowning in a Tybee marsh Oct. 20 after he’d gone missing from a canoe fishing trip a day earlier.