Authorities say that a 53-year-old Biddeford woman drowned Sunday when the boat she was riding in capsized off Biddeford Pool, and that a companion’s quick thinking probably saved three other people who were thrown into the ocean without life jackets.

James Beal, 53, of Biddeford caught the attention of a passing boater when he fired a shot from a handgun, said Jeff Nichols, spokesman for the Maine Marine Patrol. He didn’t explain why Beal was carrying the gun.

Nichols said the sound of the gunshot led a boater to the area where four people were in the water, including Elizabeth Douglass of Biddeford, who drowned.

Douglass was in the boat with Beal, Phillip Langevin, 58, of Lyman and Carl Poissant, 57, of Saco, Nichols said. Poissant was identified as the owner of the 21-foot cuddy cabin.

“A wave overtook the stern of the boat and it quickly filled with water,” Nichols said Monday.

According to the Maine Marine Patrol, which continues to investigate the incident, the recreational boat capsized around 10:30 a.m. about 10 miles off Biddeford Pool.


Nichols said investigators aren’t sure if it was a rogue wave that capsized the boat. “When the dive team went to recover the body (around 2 p.m.), they reported that the water was glass calm.”

Authorities withheld Douglass’ name until Monday, pending notification of her family. None of the people on the boat had to be treated for hypothermia.

The boat was towed to a dock in Portland by Sea Tow.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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