NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — The Coast Guard is hoping survival suits will help save two fishermen missing in the waters off Block Island.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the captain of the Mistress issued a mayday call around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, alerting officials that the boat was taking on water near the Block Island Wind Farm.
The Coast Guard said three people were on board. A nearby vessel, the Captain Bligh, was able to save one of the men. Two others were still missing as of Wednesday afternoon.
The fisherman who was rescued told the Coast Guard the boat took on water and sank.
“We’re out there. We’re under the assumption that there are two individuals out there in survival suits and that’s what we’re out there searching for now,” said Lt. Commander Stephen Hart.
Hart said survival suits are meant to protect the wearer from cold temperatures and help them stay afloat.
Hart said the search – which was hampered by windy weather Tuesday – continued Wednesday under better conditions.
Members of the local fishing community identified the owner of the Mistress as Oscar Diaz, who was with his son and nephew when the boat capsized.
The crew of the Captain Bligh said they were able to rescue Diaz’s son, but could not locate the other two men.
Andrew Arnett, captain of the Captain Bligh, said they continued an overnight search with the Coast Guard for the two missing fishermen.
“By the time we got there, there was no boat,” Arnett said. “We just followed the tide and the wind and came across his son. We searched for 12 hours after that… didn’t find much but pieces.”
Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance President Richard Fuka said Diaz is well-known in the fishing community.
“Everybody tells an Oscar story, a great Oscar story,” he said. “Having his boy around on the boat, that was a big deal.”.
Arnett said he’s known Diaz since he was 12 years old.
“He’s a good friend of my father and I’ve known his son for pretty much just as long, so it hits home,” Arnett said.
Arnett was told Diaz and his nephew were able to get into survival suits before the boat capsized.