Police continue to investigate cause of boater’s death

05/31/2011 4:00 PM |

JOSEPH TUMMINELLO PHOTO | A Riverhead Police boat scans the Sound shoreline in Northville Friday. The sailboat, named Jagular, can be seen in the background being towed.

Authorities are still investigating the death of a 63-year-old Connecticut boater whose body was found in Long Island Sound near Connecticut Friday afternoon, hours after his abandoned sailboat was discovered washed up along the Northville shoreline, officials said.

A Connecticut State Police marine patrol unit recovered the body of Francis Closter III, whom local police said had a history of illness, about 2:30 p.m. — nine hours after his 35-foot sailboat was first spotted by ConocoPhillips fuel terminal workers near Iron Pier Beach.

“We have the [state Department of Environmental Protection] doing a boat accident investigation,” Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance told the News-Review Tuesday. “There appears right now to be no criminal aspect, pending the outcome of the DEP investigation.”

A spokeswoman with the state medical examiner’s office, which is performing an autopsy, said the cause of death is “pending further study,” which Lt. Vance later explained means coroners have ordered toxicology reports to check for any type of drugs or alcohol. “Not to say we think there are any, but at this point nothing has been ruled out,” Lt. Vance said.

After ConocoPhillips workers alerted police about the empty vessel, an “extensive” search was immediately launched from the beach, according to Riverhead Police Lt. Dave Lessard. Town police were joined by personnel from three area fire departments, the U.S. Coast Guard and Suffolk Police, which dispatched helicopters to scan the Sound. Police here called off the search about 9 a.m., as it was determined that if Mr. Closter had gone overboard, that would likely have occurred closer to Connecticut.

“If he went overboard, that’s probably where he went overboard,” Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said about noon Friday. “The GPS shows where he originated, where he was going, and at a point in between the boat was kind of doing circles by the Connecticut River. They’ve also located some other equipment up there.”

Mr. Closter is believed to have suffered from diabetes, Chief Hegermiller said.

His body was recovered from the water, not on a beach or along a shoreline, officials said.

The sailor had left Midway Marina in Haddam, Conn., about 5 p.m. Thursday and was headed for Clinton, Conn., a trip of some 20 miles, about 15 of them on the Connecticut River. The Coast Guard notified Mr. Closter’s spouse about 9 a.m. Friday that the boat had been found unattended off Long Island, Lt. Vance said.

That call was made about 30 minutes after she reported her husband missing, he said.

After finding the boat, called Jagular, ConocoPhillips workers tied it to a pier, where it awaited investigators, Riverhead Police said. It was later towed from the scene.

According to a U.S. Coast Guard press release, the vessel had its “sails up and electronics running” when it was found and “Closter’s wallet and glasses were also found aboard the boat.”

mwhite@timesreview.com

Joseph Tumminello contributed reporting to this story.

8 Comment

  • First off, I find it funny how much “research” has been done on this topic considering how comments have failed to mention how much good mr. osmer has done for both Oysterponds and the north fork in general. #2 I find it funny that people attack a person when a. they weren’t there when the situation took place and b. they don’t have anything better to do than search the news for “intoxicated boaters” For a man who has taught so many years and given so much to his community, I understand he has made a mistake. But as far as i’m concerned, as human beings we all make mistakes. If you want to know how much mr. osmer means to the community, why don’t you ask the children he teaches, i’m sure they can give a good response about their favorite teacher, coach, and friend.

  • As a publicly employed individual and as a mentor of young people I hold him to a higher standard. He is supposed to be a a role model for our children, and now he has made a “mistake” that is serious enough to hold the possability of jail time. There is no excuse. Furthermore, each year as a coach he asks his players to sign a pledge that they will not participate in activities that could jeopardize the success and health of the team. This includes consuming alcohol and using drugs. How can he accept these pledges if he himself cannot uphold the standard. I am concerned less with his history and more with his future.

  • One should review the information they post considering mr osmer hasn’t been coaching for awhile now. So opinions made relating to his coaching years Is a bit irrelevant. I do understand concerns for the future but I really doubt a boating incident is going to corrupt the experienced teacher in his daily life and work. I think people should be worrying a lot more about other criminals at large rather than focusing on the dangers of boating. I think we should respect that mr osmer is dealing with this situation in the best way that he can and not reprimand him for something he clearly knows was a mistake. As well as respect his family. and just another point the night of the incident happened to be a night of fireworks out on the water. Plenty of boats were out there that night. I wonder how safe they were after their boat parties

  • The last paragraph of the article reads:

    “Those who are named in police reports have not been convicted of any crime or violation. The charges against them may later be reduced or withdrawn, or they may be found innocent.”

    Perhaps we should withhold judgement until Mr. Osmer receives his day in court. In our great country, we consider people innocent until they are proven guilty.

  • It is abhorrent that the S.T. has included Mr. Osmer’s profession in the police blotter. No other person having been charged with a crime has ever had their profession or personal information shared. In addition to a criminal lawyer, I hope Mr. Osmer hires a civil attorney.

  • Mr Osmer is a public employee that teaches our children…he made a very serious mistake and should face the consequences. there is no way he should be allowed to keep his job.

  • How can the ST pick and choose what information they decide to include on these reports? What is fair for one should be fair for all. I cannot EVER recall the profession/occupation of the accused being mentioned. Is this a new policy? Because there have been others accused of similar charges since and their place of employment was not mentioned. I understand that Mr. Osmer is a teacher, but there have been incidents before of others and they never even made the paper. If this is a new policy, why is it not consistent? Also, everyone makes mistakes. I do not know the details, and unless you do I think you should reserve harsh judgement unless you are perfect. One never knows what the future has in store for those who are so sanctimonious and quick to judge…just look at the news.

  • How can the ST pick and choose what information they decide to include on these reports? What is fair for one should be fair for all. I cannot recall the profession/occupation of the accused ever being mentioned before. There have been similar incidents after and no mention was made of the accused profession. In fact, sometimes incidents never make the paper at all. We do not know all the details and judgement should be reserved until we do. Those who judge so harshly should perhaps realize that everyone makes mistakes, and hope that they never do.