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Mar 14, 2015 11:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Captain Of Tug Dies In Sinking After Departing Shinnecock.

Mar 18, 2015 10:27 AM

The captain of a tugboat that had spent the winter working with dredging crews in Shinnecock Bay died on Saturday when the tug sank in the ocean off Fire Island.

Three other crew members were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after abandoning the sinking vessel about one mile off the beaches of Fire Island.

The Coast Guard has identified the captain as Donald Maloney, 60, of Pennsylvania. How he died has not yet been determined. His body was recovered by a commercial fishing boat that had been helping in the search, about four hours after the tug sank.

A spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard said that a distress call was received at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon from the Sea Bear, a 65-foot tugboat that had left Shinnecock Bay earlier in the day. The crew reported that the vessel was taking on water rapidly and that they were abandoning ship.

About an hour later, Coast Guard rescue boats out of Fire Island Inlet pulled three of the four crew members out of the 37-degree water about a mile from shore.

The surviving crew members were identified by the Coast Guard as Rainer Bendixen, 22, and Jason Reimer, 38, both of New Jersey, and Lars Vetland, 43, of Staten Island.

All three of the men who were rescued were wearing rubber “immersion” suits, designed to protect a person afloat in cold water.

Captain Maloney’s body was located shortly after 5 p.m. He was not wearing an immersion suit, a Coast Guard spokesman said.

The cause of the sinking is not known but will be the focus of an investigation once the hulk of the sunken boat is located, the Coast Guard said. Seas at the time of the sinking were calm and winds were light.

Spill response teams will be on the site of the sinking starting tomorrow, to contain any oils or fuel leaking from the hull.

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