Life Beyond Boating  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

Hurricane Bill passes offshore
Sunday, August 23, 2009

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Click thumbnails for larger photos

Lynn Shore Drive, Lynn, Massachusetts
taken from the Red Rock walkway

The Boston Globe
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Visitors were warned of waves
Tourists told to leave before 7 were swept into ocean

By Jack Nicas, Globe Correspondent

Acadia National Park rangers had repeatedly warned tourists to stay off a rocky shore Sunday before a hurricane-fueled wave swept several spectators into the sea near the popular attraction, killing a 7-year-old girl.

“We had rangers calling people back all day,’’ the Maine park’s chief ranger, Stuart West, said by phone yesterday.

Up to 10,000 people parked along the roadway to watch the towering waves spun off by the passing Hurricane Bill, park authorities said. Gates were used to close Thunder Hole, a popular place to watch crashing waves, and signs warned of the danger. But hordes gathered on the line of rocks anyway.

Swells reaching 12 to 15 feet rolled in throughout Sunday morning, but a much larger wave hit the coast just before noon.

Clio Axlerod, a 7-year-old girl from New York City, her father, Peter Axlerod, 55, and five others were knocked into the water.

Four people were able to pull themselves back on shore.

But the tide pulled the Axlerods and Simone Pelletier, a 12-year-old girl from Belfast, Maine, farther out into the Atlantic, authorities said.

The Coast Guard rescued Peter Axlerod and Pelletier about an hour later, and they were taken by ambulance to Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor. Peter Axlerod was later airlifted to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

About 3:30 p.m., rescuers recovered Clio Axlerod and took her to the hospital, where she was declared dead.

Thirteen people, including Sandra Kuhatch-Axlerod, 51, of New York City, were knocked down by the unusually large wave, authorities said. All were taken to the emergency room.

Thunder Hole was closed yesterday, but could be opened today depending on sea conditions.

The events of Sunday’s tragedy will not alter the park’s Thunder Hole policy, he said.

In a similar episode, a Somerville man died Sunday after rough surf swept him out to sea off Nahant Saturday afternoon, police Lieutenant Tom Hutton said.

Steven Trotter, 43, was standing in about 3 inches of water when a wave carried him out to sea, a witness and friend of Hutton’s told police. He was retrieved by a man in a lobster boat but died at Massachusetts General Hospital, Hutton said.

Globe correspondent Christopher Girard contributed to this report.

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