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Two Americans drown off Cape Maeda on New Year Day

Date Posted: 2004-01-09

Two American civilians drowned on New Year’s Day and a third managed to swim ashore after they were caught in rough seas off Cape Onna, Onna Village. According to Ishikawa Police Kenneth Williams, 54, and Robert Ashbaugh, 41, drowned after they had been caught in a strong current and were unable to swim back to the shore. The third man, Paul Townsend, managed to swim back to the shore and called for help. All three were civilian engineers working on Kadena Air Base. The police say that the three were on their way to a diving point some 50 meters off the shore and were carrying Scuba tanks but were not using them.

The bodies of the two men were taken to the Navy Hospital on Camp Lester. According to a Ishikawa Police spokesman, the area where the accident occurred is known to be very dangerous because of very strong currents. He said the police have repeatedly issued warnings to divers to be extra careful when operating in the area, as it has been the scene or many drowning accidents in the past.

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