City of Beaufort’s former mayor hospitalized in boating accident, officials say

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The former mayor of the City of Beaufort was injured in a boating accident while sailing with his brother on the Beaufort River, officials say.

William “Billy” Keyserling, the former mayor, and his brother, Paul, were sailing Saturday afternoon when their boat capsized and sank, according to City of Beaufort/ Town of Port Royal Fire Department Chief Ross Vezin.

Billy Keyserling was severely injured but was “recovering well” as of Sunday, according to Vezin and Mayor Stephen Murray. Vezin did not know if Paul Keyserling was injured.

After the boat capsized between Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the Beaufort Yacht Club, the brothers were pulled out of the water by bystanders who took them to the Beaufort Memorial dock, Vezin said. One bystander performed CPR on Billy Keyserling until firefighters arrived.

Vezin was unsure about the extent of damage to the boat Sunday and did not have an update on the brothers’ injuries.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources is investigating the accident, according to reporting from the Island News. Greg Lucas, a spokesperson for DNR, said officials responded at 1:30 p.m. but had no further updates to provide.

“I’m thankful for the good Samaritans, first responders, and BMH team that came to Keyserling’s aid,” Murray said. “He’s surrounded by family and recovering well. Please join me by keeping him in your thoughts for a full and speedy recovery.”

After serving 12 years, outgoing Mayor Billy Keyserling sits at his computer on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 where he video conferences with city leaders at his home in Beaufort. Once out of office, Keyserling plans to devote his time to the National Park Service Reconstruction Era National Historical Park. “Can’t do the two at the same time,” he said as he showcased the many works of folk art covering the walls of his penthouse.
After serving 12 years, outgoing Mayor Billy Keyserling sits at his computer on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 where he video conferences with city leaders at his home in Beaufort. Once out of office, Keyserling plans to devote his time to the National Park Service Reconstruction Era National Historical Park. “Can’t do the two at the same time,” he said as he showcased the many works of folk art covering the walls of his penthouse.

‘Fabulous ride’

Keyserling served three terms after first being elected in 2008. He was reelected without opposition in both 2012 and 2016. In 2020, Keyserling chose not to run, and Murray was elected.

Before his years as Beaufort’s mayor, Keyserling had a 16-year career in Washington working for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. It wasn’t until he was elected mayor, however, that he found his “voice,” Keyserling previously told the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.

“It’s been a fabulous ride for me,” Keyserling said. “There’s never been a higher honor than to serve as the mayor of my hometown, to feel productive, but most importantly to be part of a team.”

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