- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 9, 2004

TIVERTON, R.I. (AP) — A small pleasure boat carrying six persons capsized in the Taunton River Friday night. Three died and another is missing, the Coast Guard reported.

Officials said a change in the weather might have contributed to the accident.

One survivor was a 14-year-old boy who swam to shore and called authorities about 1 a.m. The other survivor, one of the boy’s parents, was hospitalized in critical condition, said Tiverton Police Chief Thomas Blakey.

The victims included one of the boy’s parents and an aunt, Chief Blakey said. Authorities were still trying to determine the relationship of the third victim. The boy, who was wearing a flotation device, told authorities that the missing woman was another aunt, Chief Blakey said.

“This is a family excursion that went awry, and it’s a tragedy,” Chief Blakey said.

The Coast Guard used a helicopter and boats to search for the missing woman around the river, in Mount Hope Bay and in the Sakonnet River, which extends south from the Tiverton area, said Coast Guard Ensign Jon Rose. State and local authorities assisted in the search.

Mount Hope Bay is a lobe of Narragansett Bay, with shoreline in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The boat was recovered in the Sakonnet area.

Chief Blakey said the group went out in the 17-foot boat during the day Friday and went to Swansea, Mass., to meet relatives. They left Swansea late Friday and were believed to be heading north up the Taunton River from Mount Hope Bay when the boat capsized near Fall River, Mass., Ensign Rose said. Their destination was unknown.

“Apparently, they were just making a transit,” Ensign Rose said. “I just don’t know what they were doing at night.”

The time of the accident was not immediately clear.

The National Weather Service said the wind increased from about 9 mph around 10 p.m. at nearby Newport to 21 mph, with gusts to 30 mph, by midnight. The sky was clear and temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s.

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