Wilmington man honors wife one year after death in boating accident

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Submitted: Thu, 08/01/2013 - 3:23am
Updated: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:44pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This weekend marks one year since a Wilmington man lost his wife in a boating accident on the Cape Fear River.

Ed and Barbara Pierce and two friends were sailing after dark when they hit a concrete platform, killing Barbara. Now, Ed has made it his mission to get the platform marked or destroyed.

The Pierces loved being on the water. They even participated in sailboat races. But their time offshore took a dark turn on Aug. 4, 2012.

After having dinner in Southport, the couple and two friends sailed up the Cape Fear River. It was after dark. As Ed drove the boat, he veered right to avoid a barge. Little did he know, a concrete platform was ahead.

“Because it was high tide, the platform only sat a few feet above the water… and it’s completely unmarked,” Ed said.

Their boat slammed into the platform killing his wife.

“I saw my wife in a pool of blood,” Ed said.

Now, nearing a year since the crash, Ed holds onto to the 36 years of marriage the two shared. He wears their wedding bands on a chain around his neck; hers inside of his.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my wife,” Ed said.

The other thing not leaving his mind is the concrete platform, an old quarantine dock built in the late 1800s near Battery Island. He’s sure that if it had some sort of marking, the accident that took away the love of his life would not have happened.

Ed is bringing attention to his concern by teaming up with Julia’s Florist this weekend. Through donations, he plans to blanket the platform with flowers.

“There will be probably a thousand people that will go up and down that river over the weekend and wonder why those flowers are there, and they’ll see how close it is to the channel,” he said.

Instead of traveling back to the crash scene this weekend, Ed will travel to Washington, DC, to visit Barbara’s grave site.


  • RSimmons says:

    I like to hug trees,save whales and kiss the fishys too. But when I’m on the water and encounter a hazard,if possible I make an effort to mark it or move it so the next guy doesn’t tear up his boat or get hurt. I don’t leave my name and address or call a press conference it’s just the right thing to do and there are others out there who do the same.

  • Guestwooduck says:

    so very sorry for your loss,sir. the river is much more dangerous now. esp. at nite. supertankers move like speedboats. thank you for your efforts to illuminate this hazard to navigation.

  • GK28405 says:

    I am not sure exactly you consider “Speedboat” speed. The SUPERTANKERS that come into the State Ports are cruising at 8-15 knots (5-7 miles per hour), not exactly break-neck speed.

  • Bennie Lee says:

    What was the boat operator doing to hit an object of that size, drinking? And how fast was the boat going not to be able to avoid such an object?

  • Michele says:

    Are you kidding me. This accident occurred at night and the structure was NOT lit. If you know anything about boats, they do not have head lights which is why this platform should have been lit. If the operator had been drunk he would be in jail for manslaughter, not campaigning to get this thing out of the water. That was my father who was driving and my mother who was killed. It is so sad that you are taking the focus off the real problem, the unlit platform, and blaming the “operator” It was extremely hard to have to relive this experience, especially publically but we did so that we can prevent this from happening to another family and someone else’s loved one.

  • Guest7969 says:

    you wan’t to see something REALLY impressive and a demonstration of water displacement…be on one of islands when one goes by.

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    Your numbers are completely wrong. You obviously fail to understand the effects of mass and velocity.
    1 knot = 1.15 mph
    8 knots = 6.96 mph, 15 knots = 13.04 mph

    Do you have any idea what it takes AND how long it takes to stop over 1 million pounds at full steam? Didn’t think so…

    A. FULL reverse, all propulsion. B. Over 8 miles to come to full stop.

    You can bet your skivies that a lot of stuff will “break” in the meantime, if it just happens to be in the way!

  • RSimmons says:

    I really feel for Ed, I’m coming up on 25 years with my wife and couldn’t imagine losing her like that. While I agree with him that platform serves no purpose,I would point out in the 22 years I have been around here he is the first to run into it that I know of. It is on both the NOAA paper and rastar charts and is shown on my Lowrance GPS’s chart.

    If Ed wants to do something he could raise money or pay out of pocket for a USCG approved hazard can to be placed on top of the platform. Looking online the bouy can be purchased for around $500. Or just paint a reflective hazard diamond on a 55 gallon drum fill it with rocks and place it out there on the QT. I don’t anyone is going to raise much of a fuss.

  • taxpayer says:

    “Or just paint a reflective hazard diamond on a 55 gallon drum fill it with rocks and place it out there on the QT. I don’t anyone is going to raise much of a fuss.”

    Some gubbament official would cite you for some obscure law if you painted it. And a tree hugger would bitch if you put a 55 gallon drum on it filled with rocks. After all, if the drum fell in the river by some means, the falling drum might injure/kill a fish.

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    …with very unfortunate results. Boating at night can be very dangerous. It’s very easy to get off course and get disoriented. Go slow and consistently use your spotlight to sweep your intended course.

    That old dock has been there since the 1800’s and I’ve never before heard of anyone hitting it. There are plenty of daymarkers in the ICWW and the river that do not have a beacon and are somewhat obscured without the use of a spotlight. The river can appear as a giant “black hole” on a moonless night. Caution, caution, caution, LIGHTS and slow ahead!

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