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R.I. woman falls off sailboat, makes it to island in Narragansett Bay

Narragansett Bay. Paul E. Kandarian

A Rhode Island woman fell off a sailboat operated by her husband who was drinking alcohol, and made it to a small Narragansett Bay island, where she was picked up by another boat hours later, the US Coast Guard said.

The couple set sail around noon Saturday from Newport, R.I., said Matt Baker, a commander for the US Coast Guard. The operator of the boat, who was not named, told Warwick police later that he remembered striking the Claiborne Pell Bridge around 1 p.m.

His next memory was not until 11 p.m., when he awoke and found his sailboat had run aground at Conimicut Point Beach, and his wife was missing, Baker said.


The man made it back to his marina around 2 a.m., where he called police to report his missing wife, whose name was not released.

The Coast Guard launched a search at around 3 a.m., Baker said. They received an alert from the 911 system about an hour later that people aboard another sailboat had heard a woman shouting for help from Prudence Island.

The couple was anchored at Potter Cove, off of the island. The woman swam to their boat and explained that she fell off her sailboat around sunset Saturday, and made it onto the island’s shore, Baker said. The island, which is mostly conservation land, has a small population on it that increases during the summer months to an estimated 1,500, according to the Prudence Island School Foundation.

The Coast Guard and Bristol Fire Department sent boats to meet the sailboat, and provided medical care to the woman. The woman was brought back to the mainland.

She refused further medical treatment, Baker said. She did not have any injuries.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is investigating the incident, Baker said.


Katie Camero can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @camerokt_