Deputy harbormaster crushed beneath boat

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Deputy harbormaster Michael Hathaway was airlifted Monday morning after a boat fell on him outside a town building that houses the Edgartown dredge and shellfish departments. —Rich Saltzberg

Edgartown deputy harbormaster Michael Hathaway sustained serious injuries when a boat fell on him Monday morning while it was being taken off a trailer and mounted on blocks. Hathaway was airlifted from the Island to Massachusetts General Hospital with a broken leg, a broken back, and multiple other broken bones, according to harbormaster Charlie Blair.

Hathaway was near the building that houses Edgartown’s dredge and shellfish departments on Meeting House Way when the accident occurred. Dredge Department staffer Greg Bettencourt used a front-end loader to hoist the boat so Hathaway could set blocks underneath, according to a Edgartown Police report.

“Bettencourt was lifting the boat with rope that was tied to a cleat at the front of the boat,” the report states. “Bettencourt stated that he heard a loud cracking noise while the boat was being lifted, and he yelled for Hathaway to get out from under it. Bettencourt stated that after he yelled for Hathaway to move, the cleat supporting the weight of the boat tore off the boat — dropping the boat onto Hathaway.”

Fisherman Donnie Benefit, operator of the town’s dredge, was on scene, and said the EMS response was overwhelming. Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer said when his department arrived, Hathaway was out from underneath the boat. Hathaway was transported to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in an Edgartown ambulance, Schaeffer said. The chief declined to comment on the cause, referring questions to the Edgartown Police Department, who are working on an incident report.

Longtime harbor office staffer Shelly O’Neil had nothing but praise for Hathaway. “He’s a great guy,” she said. “He helps everybody out — always has a smile on his face.”

Blair said Hathaway assisted with the eventual extraction of the sloop Mass Transit 105 last week, and does all the department’s boat and mooring maintenance, as well as managing the pump-out service. “[He’s] been with me for 22 years,” Blair said.

“We have the best EMS in the world, I think,” he added. “Don’t think anybody could beat that response.”

Blair, who has been in communication with Hathaway’s loved ones, said he underwent surgery at Mass. General Tuesday morning to repair his femur, and has returned to an ICU, where he is in a full body cast.

Hathaway’s girlfriend described the procedure as successful, Blair said.