Annapolis Teen Dies in Sailing Camp Capsize

Our sincerest condolences to the family of this teen who lost her life in a tragic sailing accident.

A 14-year-old Annapolis sailing student who died during lessons in the Severn River was remembered Friday as a much-loved teenager who enjoyed sailing with her family and playing soccer on a high school team.

Investigators said Olivia Constants was trapped underwater for several minutes after her boat capsized around 3:15 p.m. Thursday. Based on a preliminary investigation, they believe a harness she was wearing “got entangled in the rigging of the sailboat,” said state Department of Natural Resources Police spokesman Sgt. Art Windemuth. The accident, which took place near the Naval Academy, remains under investigation.

Constants was taking lessons with the Severn Sailing Association Junior Sailing Program based in the Eastport section of Annapolis. The sailing program was closed Friday, but lessons resumed Monday, said Hal Whitacre, the SSA’s commodore.

He was visibly shaken as he spoke about Constants’ family. “Words fail me to say how sad I am and how much I feel for them — that’s all I have to say,” he said.

The well-known sailing club has Olympic sailors among its ranks. Club members race against each other, although the sailing school is open to the public. The junior program has a couple hundred students this summer, Whitacre said, calling them a “tight-knit group of kids.”

Windemuth said Constants, who was wearing a life jacket, and another sailing student were the only people aboard a 420 — a boat that’s 4.2 meters long, or a little under 14 feet, with two sails — when the boat capsized.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the accident, and the boat has been seized, standard practice during the investigation of a fatal accident. In the 25 years that he has been with the Natural Resources Police, this is the first time to his knowledge that a harness has caused a fatal accident.

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