Tugboat Sinks Off Fire Island, Leaving 1 Dead

A 60-year-old tugboat captain died and his three crew members were rescued after their vessel sank more than a mile off the coast of Fire island while working on a dredging project on Saturday afternoon.

Donald Maloney was the only one of the four people aboard who was unable to put on a survival suit before the 62-foot boat, named Sea Bear, began sinking in the Atlantic Ocean south of Barrett Beach at 2 p.m., Suffolk County police  said.

One of the crew members called the Vessel Traffic Service, who then contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, which rescued the three crewmates who stayed together by the boat nearly two hours later. Maloney became separated from the group in the water. A tugboat named the Willie Lander found him floating in the water shortly after 5 p.m.

The other crewmates were identified as 43-year-old Lars Vetland of Staten Island, 38-year-old Jason Reimer of Leonardo New Jersey and 22-year-old Rainer Bendixen of Bay Head, New Jersey. All four were taken to the Fire Island Coast Guard Station, where Maloney was pronounced dead and the surviving crewmates did not need medical attention.

The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office will perform an autopsy on Maloney to determine his cause of death.

Wittich Brothers Marine, Inc. owns the boat, which was traveling back to its base in Bayonne New Jersey at the time.

Homicide Squad detectives and the Coast Guard is continuing the investigation.

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