Barrington officials call off search for missing boater

Barrington Harbor Patrol boat. (WPRI-TV)

BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Barrington harbor patrol took boats out Friday morning to search, after a man went out on the water and never returned.

Four town boats were scouring the bay for the man. The Coast Guard called off their part of the search, but state as well as local crews are still looking on the water as well as places he may have visited on land.

“I was out here at five o’clock [this morning], and the Coast Guard was on scene all night,” said Barrington Fire Chief Gerald Bessette. “They put their helicopters back up and did searches from the air…”

“Between police and [the Department of Environmental Management], they are certainly doing land-side conversions and search — checking all avenues that they can think of.”

Town officials were not releasing the man’s name or age. They said his family alerted authorities Thursday evening when he didn’t come back at the time they expected.

Search teams later found the man’s boat anchored in the water and empty.

Environmental Police took custody of the boat and were holding it in a warehouse as evidence. They did not speculate on where he might be.

“We’ve searched the area quite thoroughly. As far as progress, we’re re-searching areas we already covered,” said Lt. Joe Poccia of the Rhode Island State Environmental Police.

An ATV was to be used later in the day to scour the beach. The search was expected to continue until at least sundown.

“We will not continue the search after six… We’ve done everything we can do at this point,” said Chief Bessette.

Barrington officials called off the search at 6 p.m. Friday — and some residents said it was way too early to give up.

“I feel horrible for his family. It must be very upsetting,” said Gail Tighe. “That seems a little premature to me. I mean, I know if I were his family, I would be very upset about that. It doesn’t seem like they’ve been searching long enough.”

Eyewitness News spoke with a nonprofit group, New England Search and Rescue, that offered to pick up the search Saturday morning.

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