Man says he heard Wood screaming

Anthony Sakal, who claims he heard Natalie Wood crying for help as she drowned in 1981. Photo courtesy of "Inside Edition."
Anthony Sakal, who claims he heard Natalie Wood crying for help as she drowned in 1981. Photo courtesy of "Inside Edition."

NEW YORK, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A man who says he was about 50 yards from the boat Natalie Wood was on the night she drowned alleges he heard the Hollywood actress "screaming for help."

Anthony Sakal, 39, told TV's "Inside Edition" he was 9 at the time, and had been on board another boat about 50 yards from the Splendour -- the vessel Wood had been on with her husband, actor Robert Wagner, and their friend, actor Christopher Walken -- when the actress somehow ended up in the water.


Officials recently reopened the investigation into Wood's 1981 death, saying they received new information regarding the case, but they haven't offered any details about the developments. The actress' death was declared an accidental drowning.

Sakal's mother, Marilyn Wayne, made headlines last week when she revealed publicly for the first time she heard a woman screaming for help the night Wood died.

Sakal recalled his own memories of that night in his interview with "Inside Edition."

"Natalie Wood was screaming for help. The other party was joking about helping her … . I can only tell you they responded, 'Hang on!' And, then nothing happened."


Pressed to describe what else he heard, Sakal replied: "I heard, 'I'm drowning, please help me.' That sort of thing. I heard from the other boat, 'Don't worry, we're going to save you.'"

Sakal said the people on the other boat sounded drunk and didn't seem to believe Wood's cries for help were serious.

Asked, "There was no sense of urgency?" Sakal said, "Correct."

The possible witness insisted no authorities had ever questioned him about the matter.

"I'm not surprised. I was so young at the time," he said.

The star of "The Searchers," "Splendor in the Grass," "West Side Story," "Rebel without a Cause" and "Miracle on 34th Street" was 43 when she died.

Questions have been raised recently about the circumstances surrounding the incident. Lana Wood, the actress' sister, and Dennis Davern, the captain of the yacht, requested the investigation be reopened more than a year ago.

Davern, the author of the 2009 book "Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendor," has said he believes Wagner is responsible for Wood's death, claiming Wagner and his wife had been arguing shortly before she drowned.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. John Corina said this month Wagner is not a suspect.

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