State Police on Monday identified a 74-year-old man, found dead on Wednesday, September 25, in the surf on the Island’s North Shore, as Francis G. Elms of Framingham. The cause of death was drowning.
Mr. Elms suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s disease and suffered from many health problems, State Police Sergeant Jeff Stone said. Although Mr. Elms had stopped driving last year because of his failing health, he rented a car on Tuesday morning in Framingham and drove to Martha’s Vineyard without telling family members.
The investigation showed that he arrived at the Steamship Authority’s Palmer Avenue lot around 10:45 am, Tuesday, and boarded the noon boat. While on the ferry, Martha’s Vineyard passengers saw him put a leg on the railing and alerted crew members who spoke to Mr. Elms. Mr. Elms assured the crew members that there was no cause for concern. However crew members continued to monitor him during the crossing.
Mr. Elms arrived in Oak Bluffs, Mr. Stone said. He had lunch at the Lookout Tavern.
Mr. Elms was seen boarding the freight boat Katama, scheduled to leave Oak Bluffs at 2:45 pm. A review of Steamship Authority records show that 15 people walked on board the boat as passengers, but only 14 disembarked in Woods Hole. Mr. Stone said there is no way to know for certain whether Mr. Elms accidently fell or jumped from the ferry.
Mr. Elms had no known current connection to the Island.
“In 1967, he honeymooned here with his wife,” Sergeant Stone said.
Mr. Elms was found dead by the caretaker for a property west of the Lake Tashmoo opening in Tisbury. Mr. Elms was fully clothed in the surf at about 10 am. Tisbury Police brought the body to shore.
Mr. Elms was a helper and volunteer with many organizations, including Cub Scouts, Special Olympics, and veterans services, according to his obituary. He was buried in Lake Grove Cemetery in Holliston on Tuesday. “It’s just unfortunate,” Sergeant Stone said.