WESTPORT, Conn. – A former Westport resident and longtime friend of Stew Leonard Sr. — owner of the dairy superstore of the same name — died Tuesday after he was swept off Leonard's powerboat in St. Maarten, the St. Maarten-based Daily Herald reports.
Robert Speranza, 73, was with Stew Leonard Sr., Leonard's son Tom and the 70-foot powerboat's captain when it was hit by a wave that smashed the boat's windshield and almost capsized the vessel. The foursome was traveling to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, when the wave struck.
"As we approached the island, a huge rogue wave came out of nowhere and hit the bow of the boat. It must have been 12 feet high," Leonard told the Daily Herald. "The wave came crashing through the boat and smashed the glass of the 10-foot-wide windshield, which is normally bulletproof. My son was also swept down to the back of the boat, but he was able to grab onto a railing."
After the wave hit, Leonard told the newspaper that they turned the boat around and pulled Speranza out of the water. Speranza was unconscious and had a gash on his head, the newspaper reports.
"We called in a 'mayday,' got him on board, and proceeded to do CPR on him for about 30 minutes, which was the time it took to get the boat to Tortola [British Virgin Islands]," Leonard said. "We all worked on him, trying everything we could to resuscitate him, but to no avail."
Speranza, who had known Leonard for about 40 years, was the owner of the Ocean Club in St. Maarten. Westport News reports he was a former Westport resident.
The full Daily Herald story can be found here.