Search suspended for woman who went overboard from Prudence Island ferry

East Bay

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. Coast Guard has called off the search for a Prudence Island ferry rider who went overboard Monday evening.

The search for the missing 39-year-old Prudence Island resident was suspended Tuesday morning pending further information, according to the Coast Guard.

The incident occurred halfway through the ferry’s 30-minute trip from Prudence Island to Bristol, according to police.

It was initially believed the woman had fallen off the boat, but ferry riders told detectives it appeared she may have intentionally climbed over the deck railing and jumped into the water.

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Bristol Fire Chief Michael DeMello said the woman wasn’t wearing a life jacket at the time.

The Coast Guard spent more than 10 hours searching for the missing woman by boat and helicopter.

DeMello said the search efforts were hindered by strong winds, darkness and rough seas.

At this point, he’s not optimistic that she will be found alive.

“Being in the water all night with these temperatures … It’s a search and recovery operation now,” he said.

Prudence & Bay Island Transports, which operates the ferry, said crew members and several passengers sprang into action once they realized what had happened.

“Our crew responded immediately, deployed a floating strobe and a life ring, and searched the area with the assistance of the remaining passengers for nearly an hour until relieved by first responders,” the company said in a statement. “We are fully cooperating with the ongoing search and investigation … our thoughts are with the woman’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.”

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