COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) – Police believe alcohol played a role in the deaths of two men who were pulled from Johnson’s Pond in Coventry Thursday morning.
An Eyewitness News crew on scene witnessed divers pull two bodies from the water – one around 10:15 a.m. and the other about 15 minutes later. Police have now identified the victims as 54-year-old Laurence Ryan and 47-year-old Steven Duarte, both of East Providence.
According to Coventry Police, officers arrived on scene just after 11 p.m. Wednesday, where they found a woman, 47, on a pontoon boat. She was reportedly yelling for help and said the two victims had fallen into the water and never resurfaced.
Coventry Police Chief Col. John MacDonald said the woman told police she had fallen into the water and the two men went in to help her and the boat drifted away from all three of them.
MacDonald said the woman was able to make it back to the boat, but she could not operate the craft and was unable to help the men – who were reportedly in distress in the water.
The woman was later transported to a local hospital for treatment.
MacDonald said investigators believe alcohol was a factor, adding that boating and alcohol don’t mix.
According to Central Coventry Fire District Fire Chief Frank Brown, the initial search lasted about three hours. He said it was then suspended until a Coast Guard helicopter arrived with a spotlight. Throughout the morning the search was temporarily halted and resumed due to murky water conditions.
Brown said a Rhode Island State Police boat equipped with SONAR arrived Thursday morning and crews marked several areas of interest.
He said divers had to wait until daylight before they could enter the water and the victims were found fairly close to where the men were reported missing.