3 Rescued, 1 Dead, as Tug Sinks Off Fire Island

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Rosemary Bystrak

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued three survivors from a sunken tugboat Saturday in the icy Atlantic Ocean, but reported that one crew member had died and his body was recovered.

The three survivors were treated for hypothermia and reported in fair condition. 

Donald Maloney, the on-duty captain, was unable to put on his survival suit, Suffolk County police said. His crewmates - Lars Vetland, Jason Reimer and Rainer Bendixen - were able to get into their suits.

The 65-foot tugboat Sea Bear was traveling from Shinnecock to New York City when the crew called a vessel traffic service to report that the tug was taking on water, said Coast Guard Command Duty Officer Mark Averill. The vessel service notified the Coast Guard in New Haven, Conn., at about 2:50 p.m. and rescue boats and a helicopter were dispatched to the location.

As Coast Guard rescuers approached, the tugboat's emergency transmission died. The vessel sank one mile off the coast of Fire Island Pines.

Despite a thick blanket of fog, a Coast Guard boat from Fire Island reached the location in about 45 minutes and found the three survivors wearing emergency immersion suits, Averill said. They were huddled together in the water.

The water temperature was 37 degrees, Averill said.

The Coast Guard searched and at about 5 p.m. found Maloney's body near the spot where the vessel sank.

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