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Man dies while fixing crab traps

The 78-year-old's wife tries to save him after he falls off his boat and drowns when the vessel sinks in the Hernando Beach Channel.

Published May 18, 2004

HERNANDO BEACH - While fixing his crab traps in the Hernando Beach Channel on Monday, a 78-year-old boater fell into the water and drowned after the boat tipped over.

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Joseph Paez said Martin Grasso of Evergreen Avenue in northwest Hernando County was working on his crab traps at the end of the channel about 1 p.m. Monday when his wife, Joan, reached over to offer her assistance, causing the boat to tilt to one side.

Martin Grasso yelled to his wife that the boat was not balanced and told her to go to the other side.

"As she did that, he did the same thing," Paez said Monday. "In essence, it shifted all of the weight to one side and caused the boat to take on water."

As the boat sank, Joan Grasso grabbed a life preserver, while her husband lunged for a rubber flotation device. Soon afterward, Martin Grasso lost his grip and drowned, Paez said.

The two were in the water for about 30 minutes until an unidentified boater noticed them and managed to pull Joan Grasso aboard. By that time, her husband was already dead.

"It just appears to be a tragic accident," Paez said.

Joan Grasso was not injured.

[Last modified May 17, 2004, 20:41:32]

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