BOSTON (CBS) – Bay State Cruise Company says a passenger was taking part in a “dramatic form of dangerous play” before he fell overboard and eventuall drowned during a party cruise in Boston Harbor Saturday night.
The 21-year-old man’s body was recovered just before 1 a.m. Sunday morning. State Police are now investigating how he wound up in the water.
The District Attorney’s office has identified the man as Aaron Dibella of Peabody.
DiBella fell off the Provincetown II ferry. An event posting on Facebook says it was a tropical luau boat party. It took off around 7 pm. Ninety minutes later, the man went overboard near Peddocks Island.
“The tragic and overwhelming sadness that has swept through all of us; our crew, our staff – everyone associated with our company – has left us without adequate words to express just how sorry we are for the family and friends of the gentleman that went overboard,” said Bay State Cruise Company owner Michael Glasfeld.
The company said in a statement DiBella was found and illuminated with the ship’s spotlight. Several life rings were thrown to within several feet of the man, and a crew member got into the water wtihin five feet to assist. Despite the rescue efforts, the man was unable to stay afloat.
An intensive search began once the U.S. Coast Guard received a report of a person overboard.
“That launched all of our assets from Station Boston, Station Port Allerton, Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo, Air Station Cape Cod launced their helicopter, as well as all of our partner agencies,” said Coast Guard spokeswoman Nicole Groll. “We were searching, at night, for a person in the water. That’s always a difficult situation.”
Dive teams say they recovered the man’s body about 100 yards from where he entered the water, in about 45 feet of water.
“These are kids having fun, and anytime there’s a loss of life, it’s always tragic,” Groll said.
According to Bay State Cruise Company, just minutes before DiBella fell over, he was performing a “type of vertical pushup” from the ship’s bulwark. A crew member told him to climb down, and he initially “appropriately responded to the warning.”
But when the crew member turned to go back inside the boat, DiBella “started in on the even more dramatic form of dangerous play.”
Alcohol was served, but it is still not clear if it was a factor. DiBella’s body is now at the medical examiner’s office.
“The maritime environment is inherently dangerous,” said Lt. Lucy Daghir, a watch stander at Coast Guard Sector Boston. “We would like to remind the public to maintain situational awareness and exercise caution while on the water.”