CAPE MAY - The manager of a scallop boat that sank, killing his two sons and four others, broke down in sobs Tuesday during a hearing into the March 24 sinking of the Lady Mary.
Royal "Fuzzy" Smith's emotional testimony this morning prompted a short recess in the Coast Guard inquiry hearing into the Mar. 24 sinking of the Lady Mary.
When the hearing resumed, the Coast Guard investigators turned their focus to boating safety, sleep schedules for the crew, training and drug use.
Smith said he never saw drug use among the crew, but said sleep schedules and training were the captain's responsibility.
When Smith was captain, he told the board, crews worked a "12 on, 12 off" schedule.
The hearing is now in recess for lunch and will resume later this afternoon.
Earlier today, Smith stared at a picture of the Lady Mary's final resting place at the dark bottom of the Atlantic Ocean as his lawyer asked when the crew was expected to return.
"They probably were coming in Tuesday (the day of the accident)," Smith said, his back to the questioners. He put his head down and began sobbing quietly and rocked back and forth on his feet.
The sinking claimed the lives of Smith's only sons, Royal Smith Jr. and Tim Smith, along with his brother Tarzon "Bernie" Smith. Frank Reyes, Jorge Arteaga and Frankie Credle also died. The lone survivor was crew member Jose Luis Arias.
Along with the emotional toll, the sinking poses possible legal consequences depending on the Coast Guard's findings. Smith postponed the hearings in April to get legal representation.
Smith testified the Lady Mary was in gear and had a good catch on deck at the time of the sinking. He estimated the single scallop dredge contained as much as 12 bushels of scallops.
Divers found the scallops still in the dredge as if the sinking had occurred in the midst of unloading.