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Police: Men apparently drowned after saving woman

Fire and rescue crews search Johnson's Pond in Coventry for two men reported overboard from a boat. (WJAR)

Coventry police said Thursday that two men apparently drowned in a pond after saving a woman with whom they were boating.

Police Chief John MacDonald said he believes alcohol was involved.

"Alcohol and boating ... they just don't mix," MacDonald said.

Two bodies were recovered Thursday morning, with police later identifying them as 54-year-old Laurence Ryan, of East Providence, and 47-year-old Steven Duarte, also of East Providence.

The men were reported overboard at about 11 p.m. Wednesday in Johnson's Pond. Coventry police initially said a woman on a pontoon boat told them the men fell off the boat and did not resurface.

Investigators elaborated at a Thursday news conference by saying the men had jumped into the water to save the woman, who was struggling. The men got her back in the boat, but then became distressed themselves and apparently went under.

Coventry police said the woman on the boat was treated at a hospital for an undisclosed reason.

Now, residents that live near the pond are warning boaters of the dangers involved in being on the water at night and boating while drinking.

"This is just a big neighborhood joined by water," said Jon Pascua of the Johnson's Pond Civic Association. "So, when something happens like this -- somebody gets hurt, somebody gets killed -- we all feel it."

Others shared similar sentiments.

"The problem a lot of times is people aren't familiar with the water," added resident Jason Hawes. "They're out there at night. There has been problems over the last few years of people drinking and it's created some hazards."

Residents said the Department of Environmental Management patrols the waters, but they can't be everywhere all the time.

"Some nights, they're out here until three in the morning," said Pascua. "They are boarding vessels, they are doing sobriety tests, and they have made arrests before."

Police said the boat is owned by a Coventry resident who was not aboard. Police said they didn't expect any charges to be filed and no arrests were made.

Members of the Coventry Police Department, the state Department of Environmental Management, the Central Coventry Fire Department and the Hopkins Hill Fire Department along with numerous residents were part of the search effort.

Dive teams from the Warwick Police Department and the state police also assisted.


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