Watch Hill firefighters, Coast Guard assist 4 on disabled vessel off Napatree

Watch Hill firefighters, Coast Guard assist 4 on disabled vessel off Napatree

The Westerly Sun

WESTERLY — Local firefighters and personnel from U.S. Coast Guard Station New London helped rescue four people Wednesday night after they were stranded off the shore of Napatree when the 28-foot vessel they were in began to sink.

The Watch Hill Fire Department and Coast Guard were contacted around 9:30 p.m. with reports of a distressed boat, with seven occupants, that had begun to sink just west of Napatree Point.

Watch Hill Fire Chief Robert Peacock said firefighters responded with a boat crew and ATV response unit, assisted by members of the Coast Guard, who operated a second response vessel.

“As we were responding, three of the seven people on board were transferred to a passing vessel, while four others remained with the boat in an effort to prevent it from sinking,” Peacock said.

Officials said emergency responders on the ATV located the boat just offshore and one of the boaters was able to guide the vessel to the south side, or outside, of Napatree Point. The boat was then run aground slowly and was left overnight because there were no remaining safety concerns, officials said.

The four occupants, cold and wet, were evaluated by Watch Hill volunteers. There were no reported injuries and all four declined further medical treatment.

Peacock said all four were taken to Fort Road and arrangements were made to assist them in returning to New London. He said the owner contacted TowBoatUS of Old Saybrook, a company that provides basic emergency services. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management also was contacted. A decision was made to wait until daylight hours and Thursday’s high tide before trying to remove the boat, according to Peacock.

The fire department responded to the boat again around midnight, after the owner’s companions called to report that he had gone back to better secure the vessel. They had tried to find him, Peacock said, and had attempted to take a vehicle onto Napatree, but became stuck. The Westerly police arranged to have the car towed back to the road.

Peacock said while walking along Napatree, the owner had taken a wrong turn and was later found walking toward town. He was reunited with his party without further incident.


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