NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Police continue to investigate after a North Providence man was pulled from the water off the coast of Narragansett.
Officers responded to the area of Hazard Avenue at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to find the man floating face down and unresponsive about 200 feet offshore, according to police.
A police officer swam out to assist the victim and a Narragansett Fire Department boat was deployed to retrieve the pair.
After failed attempts to revive the man – identified as 64-year-old James Vota – he was transported to the South County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Eyewitnesses told police that Vota slipped on the rocks, struck his head and fell into the water. They said was sitting on the shore reading prior to the accident.
“People don’t know, when they see the black slime on the rocks, that’s slippery,” said Narragansett resident Bob Grillo. “If you don’t have cleats on your shoes, you could go right off the edge.”
Paula Caldarone, Vota’s neighbor, said she has lived near him for the last 18 years. The 64-year-old often went by the nickname Rocky.
“The name fits him. He was a rock,” she said. “He was a great person, family oriented, treated my children like their own.”
Vota’s widow told Eyewitness News her husband was a retired maintenance worker who worked for a local school department for 40 years. She was understandably too upset to talk about Vota on camera.
“She’s doing okay. She’s holding on,” Caldarone said. “Obviously in shock, but she’s doing okay.”
Police said the official cause remains under investigation.
There have been two similar deaths in the area in the past year. In February, the body of 61-year-old Peter Butler was recovered from the water and a 14-year-old girl drowned while swimming with her father last July.