Coast Guard locates diver down in North Kingstown, R.I.

BOSTON – A Coast Guard Station Castle Hill 25-foot response boat crew found a commercial dive boat at anchor at 5:08 a.m. Tuesday one mile from Allen Harbor, North Kingstown, R.I. where a deceased diver was brought to the surface by the Warwick Fire Dept. at 6:40 a.m.

Deceased is Louis Ricciarelli, Jr., 56, of Exeter, R.I., who was known to dive for quahogs from his 25-foot boat, the Chelsea Ann, which is based at Gardner’s Wharf in North Kingstown. Quahogs are a type of clam.

Ricciarelli’s wife called the Rhode Island State Police at 2:15 a.m. after returning from work Tuesday to report her husband should have returned at about 4 p.m. Monday. She stated he probably left Allen Harbor alone between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Monday in the Chelsea Ann to dive for quahogs. The State Police contacted the Coast Guard to report the overdue vessel, the location of which was completely unknown to search and rescue coordinators.

After narrowing down a search area, Castle Hill launched at 4:44 a.m. and found the Chelsea Ann at anchor about six miles away from the station. The boat crew noticed a diver air hose deployed over the side. They immediately called for a dive team, and Warwick Fire Dept. divers deployed from their own boat at 6:40 a.m. when they found Ricciarelli deceased at the bottom in 20 feet of water.

A Station Castle Hill Coast Guard boat towed the Chelsea Ann back to the Gardner’s Wharf in North Kingstown, and the R.I. Dept. of Environmental Management Police are investigating the cause of the incident.

“We would like to express our condolences to Mr. Ricciarelli’s family,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason A. Armstrong, who works at Station Castle Hill. “This was a tough case for us because we had no idea at first where the dive boat could be. Once we were able to narrow down a potential search area, we launched our boat crew.”

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