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Two recent incidents, both involving duck hunters, have highlighted the dangerous reality of what
happens when a human body comes in contact with the frigid winter waters of New England.
“If you go in the water, the likelihood is that it’s going to be a fatal event,” said Dr. N. Stuart Harris, the chief of the division of wilderness medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
On Sunday, the body of 21-year-old Brown University student Dana Dourdeville was found washed ashore in Falmouth. He went missing on New Year’s Eve while duck hunting in a kayak off the coast of Fairhaven, across Buzzard’s Bay from where he was found.
Dourdeville’s death was the third in recent weeks after two duck hunters died and another barely survived, when their boat capsized in choppy waters on the Westport River on Jan. 7.
This time of year, when water temperatures are in the 30s, bad things happen immediately on contact with the water, experts say.
“If you’re not wearing specialized equipment, such as a dry suit or a survival suit, you just don’t have a chance,” Harris said. “That the one guy got out of the water is fairly remarkable.”