Body of missing boater found in Cherrystone Inlet

WAVY/Andy Fox

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — The body of a missing Eastern Shore boater was found Friday in the Cherrystone Inlet in the Chesapeake Bay.

According to the Coast Guard, a 27-foot Carolina Skip boat capsized with three people aboard shortly before noon Thursday. Watchstanders at Station Cape Charles were notified about the incident at 4 p.m. by a good Samaritan, who rescued two of the boaters.

Officials say waves were about two feet high with winds around 10 to 15 knots when the boat capsized in less than six feet of water.

Chad Ballard III, owner of Cherrystone Aqua Farms, tells 10 On Your Side the missing boater is Amp Thomas.

“From what we’ve heard so far a wake crashed over the bow of the boat, and capsized it. There were three crew members on board. Two were recovered immediately by one of our other crews,” Ballard said.

Several of Ballard’s work boats were returning from a days’ catch when one of them made a wake that capsized the overturned boat, which was full of clams.

Around 20 hours after the boat capsized, a diver put on the top of the work boat dove the site, and it didn’t take long to find Thomas in the hull of the boat. It is possible that Thomas got snared and he was wearing waders, which are difficult to swim in.

“He worked for us for about two years,” Ballard said. “He is a veteran on the water and our thoughts are with his family. We couldn’t be more upset about what’s happened… He worked on the water crew, so he would plant clams, harvest clams and maintain clam beds.”

Cherrystone Aqua Farms posted about the search on its Facebook page late Thursday night.

A 29-foot Response Boat-Small crew from Station Cape Charles, a Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City and local agencies assisted in the search.

Stay with WAVY.com for updates on this developing story.