Capt. Bill Jenkins, Jr. outside of his seafood business, Captain's Choice Market, in Virginia Beach.

Va. Charter Captain Drowns Helping Sea Turtle

A Virginia Beach charter captain and seafood business owner drowned Thursday while trying to free a sea turtle tangled in rope.

Bill Jenkins, Jr., 53, was about two miles offshore on his charter boat Legacy around noon when Virginia Beach Police say he jumped in the water to try and free a turtle that appeared to be entangled.

In a news release, police say, “While in the water, he began to struggle. This was observed by others on the boat, who called 911 and entered the water to offer assistance.” Virginia Beach Marine Patrol responded and was able to pull Jenkins from the water and perform CPR. The Virginia Beach Fire Department and EMS also responded to help. But Jenkins was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Captain William Parker Jenkins, Jr. was a fourth generation fisherman and native of Virginia’s Northern Neck. He started working as a bait boy on his father’s boat at the age of five, and ran charter boats for other captains by the time he was 24.

He operated Legacy Charters out of Rudee Inlet and owned Captain’s Choice Seafood Market with wife Helen. Jenkins was also a U.S. Air Force veteran and retired Virginia Beach Police officer (MPO). He leaves behind two children, three stepchildren and two grandchildren.

In a Facebook post, Helen Jenkins writes, “On behalf of myself, my family, and my beloved Bill Jenkins, I would like to express my deepest gratitude for the outpouring of love and support over the last few days. I would like to specifically thank Bill’s Blue Family and Fishing Family for it has been your love, unwavering support and memories honoring him that gets me from one breath to the next.”

In lieu of flowers, Jenkins’s family asks that memorial donations may be made to the Virginia Beach Police Foundation, at or mail to P.O. Box 56385, Virginia Beach, VA 23456.

-Meg Walburn Viviano