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Lifeguard Says Natalie Wood Could Have Been Saved

November 22nd, 2011 9:13pm EST

Robert Wagner and Natalie WoodThe lifeguard who pulled drowned Natalie Wood's body from the water three decades ago has welcomed a new investigation into the tragedy - because he still believes the actress could have been saved if officials had started a search for her earlier.

Wood allegedly fell overboard from husband Robert Wagner's boat and died in the icy waters off the coast of California at Thanksgiving, 1981.

Boaters on a nearby craft claim they heard Wood's cries for help for 25 minutes but could not locate the star in the darkness. They contacted the coast guard but a search was not immediate.

And now Roger Smith, the former county supervising rescue boat captain who fished Wood's body out of the water, hopes the reopening of her death investigation will answer lingering questions.

He tells the Los Angeles Times, "Based on the condition of her body when we pulled her from the water, I believe she survived for sometime in the water and was blown out to sea. She probably cried for help for hours.

"I've always believed she could have been saved. Her fingers were still pliable when she was pulled from the water, suggesting she had not been dead for hours."

Smith claims he was alerted to the location of Wood's body at 5.11am the day after Wood had gone missing.

According to him, a lifeguard boat equipped with all the gear needed to conduct a search had been moored about 100 feet away.

 

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood

 

Photo Credits: PR Photo, supplied by WENN.com