Gulf oil spill: Boat captain, despondent over spill, commits suicide
William Allen Kruse, 55, a charter boat captain recently hired by BP as a vessel of opportunity out of Gulf Shores, Ala., died Wednesday morning before 7:30 a.m. of a gunshot to the head, likely self-inflicted, authorities said.
"He had been quite despondent about the oil crisis," said Stan Vinson, coroner for Baldwin County, which includes Gulf Shores.
Kruse, who lived with his family in nearby Foley, Ala., reported to work Wednesday morning as usual at the Gulf Shores Marina on Fort Morgan Road in Gulf Shores, Vinson said. He met up with his two deckhands at his boat, The Rookie. One of the deckhands later told Vinson that Kruse seemed his usual self, sending them to fetch ice while he pulled the boat around to the gas pumps.
As the deckhands walked off to get ice, they heard what sounded like a firecracker, Vinson said. They turned around but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. So they proceeded to gather the ice and wait for Kruse at the pumps. "He never showed," Vinson said.
After waiting a while, the deckhands returned to the boat, which was moored where they had left it, Vinson said. They went aboard and found Kruse at the captain's bridge above the wheelhouse, Vinson said. He had been shot in the head. A Glock handgun was later recovered from the scene, and investigators do not suspect foul play, Vinson said.
Vinson said Kruse was in good health, did not suffer from any mental illness and was not taking psychotropic medications.
But he said it's not surprising the oil spill had weighed heavily on his mind, as it has on many local fishermen no longer able to support themselves with deep-sea sport fishing trips for marlin and the like, Vinson said.
"All the waters are closed. There's no charter business anymore. You go out on some of the beaches now, with the oil, you can't even get in the water," Vinson said. "It's really crippled the tourism and fishing industry here."
Vinson's office was to perform an autopsy Wednesday, and the Gulf Shores Police Department is still investigating. Det. Justin Clopton did not return calls.
Kruse's family was notified by Wednesday afternoon, Vinson said, and his deckhands were sent home for the day.
-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske