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Three dead, one missing after boat capsizes in Rhode Island

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By RICHARD C. LEWIS

Associated Press

TIVERTON, R.I. - A small boat carrying six people home from a family outing capsized in Mount Hope Bay during the night, the Coast Guard reported. Three people died, and one was missing.

Officials said a change in the weather might have contributed to the accident.

One survivor was 14-year-old Christopher Duarte, who swam to shore and had a resident call authorities about 1 a.m. Saturday. Christopher's father, Allen Duarte, 35, was rescued and hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.

Police Chief Thomas Blakey said authorities were still searching for the boy's aunt, Kelleigh Ouellette, 24.

The dead were the boy's mother, Edwina Duarte, 34; a cousin, James Duarte, 23; and Ouellette's boyfriend, Richard Doehler, 39. All the passengers were from Fall River, Mass.

"This is a family excursion that went awry, and it's a tragedy," Blakey told The Associated Press.

Mount Hope Bay is a lobe of Narragansett Bay, with shoreline in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Blakey said the boat capsized between Fall River and Tiverton, near the point where the bay meets the Sakonnet River, which extends to the south.

Coast Guard Capt. Judy Keene said the tide carried the boat and the victims southward to the area around the Sakonnet Bridge.

Blakey said the group went out in the 17-foot boat during the day Friday and went to Swansea, Mass., to meet relatives. They left Swansea after dark and were headed back to Fall River when the boat capsized, Blakey said.

The time of the accident was not immediately clear.

The National Weather Service said the wind increased from about 9 mph around 10 p.m. at nearby Newport to 21 mph, with gusts to 30 mph, by midnight. The sky was clear and the temperature was in the upper 50s to low 60s. The Coast Guard said the water temperature was about 50.

Don Dettlinger, an assistant harbor master for Tiverton, said the boat may have been

overloaded.

"People don't heed weather warnings," Dettlinger said. "It's risky. Why those people were out there last night is beyond my belief. I wouldn't be out if I were on my boat."

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