NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (WPRI) — Officials have identified a Rhode Island man killed in a weekend paragliding accident in the waters off Plum Island in Newburyport, Mass.
Police said Alvaro, Etcheverry, 49, of North Smithfield, was using a self-powered parachute when he crashed into the frigid Merrimack River. Police said two friends tried to save him, but were forced to retreat from the water because of the extreme cold.
Witness Dorothy Davis saw the tragic incident, “It’s a sad, sad thing. The person in the glider when it crossed me went to the water… and very, very low.”
Coast Guard rescuers eventually pulled Etcheverry out of the river about 20 to 30 minutes later. He was not wearing a life vest.
“We don’t know the particulars. If he had a mechanical problem or just went down and we also don’t know if he had any trauma from the crash,” Newburyport Police Lt. Richard Siemasko said.
Etcheverry was pronounced dead at the hospital, though officials are unclear if he dried from trauma or drowned in the cold water. An autopsy is scheduled for later this week.
He worked for the last several months as a network administrator for the town of Franklin, Mass. A family friend said the North Smithfield man was married and the father of an 8-year-old.