BOSTON - A man who went overboard off a Boston Harbor cruise boat has died, authorities said.
Massachusetts State Police divers recovered the body shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday.
The Plymouth District Attorney's office has identified the victim as 21-year-old Aaron Dibella of Peabody.
In a tweet, the Coast Guard said they began searching for a man in the water after the Provincetown II ferry reported a man had gone overboard at Sector Boston at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, just off of Peddocks Island.
Crews said the victim was found approximately 45 feet into the water, approximately 100 yards from the coordinates where he had gone overboard.
Environmental Police officers used a side-scanner sonar from the boat to locate a potential target, and then State Police divers then dove on the target marked by the sonar and confirmed the target was in fact the body of the missing man.
Family and friends of the 21-year-old victim were left looking for answers after the incident, and remembered the victim on Sunday.
"We still question that, how did it happen?" the victim's uncle Lou Dibella said. "Full of life, always active, never negative. Always looking at the bright side of things."
The uncle and the rest of the victim's family said they still couldn't comprehend the death. Dibella's cousin Susan was left hopeful that investigators could help them understand how he went overboard and why no one was able to save him.
"Everyone is in a state of shock," Susan Dibella said. "Everyone is in a state of shock. What do we do next? There's arrangements to be made, but there's also a lot of questions I would want answered."
Matt Almon, the victim's friend, was there when Dibella went overboard, and said he did everything he could to get assistance.
"That's why I ran as fast I could through the boat," Almon said. "Getting everyone's attention, bumping into everyone, screaming, 'My friend just fell over,' trying to get them to stop the boat."
Almon said it took several minutes for the boat to get back to where Dibella fell in.
"They threw out three little life-preserve saucers, but they didn't get too close to him," Almon said. "I just stood there screaming his name because I didn't know what was going to happen. I think he lost his strength to keep going."
A security guard from the ship went into the water to try to rescue Dibella, but lost sight of him.
On Sunday morning, the Bay State Cruise Company issued a statement regarding the recovery of the body:
On September 8th, at roughly 8:30pm, a passenger aboard a harbor cruise vessel in Boston Harbor fell into the water after engaging in horseplay aboard the vessel. The passenger tragically did not survive long enough in the water to be rescued by the crew of the vessel.
"The tragic and overwhelming sadness that has swept through all of us; our crew, our staff - everyone associated with our company – has left us without adequate words to express just how sorry we are for the family and friends of the gentleman that went overboard", said Bay State Cruise Company's owner, Michael Glasfeld. "We had him located and illuminated with the ship's spot light, the several life rings were within just a few feet of him, and a crew member was additionally in the water also within five feet of him to assist". Despite these efforts, the passenger succumbed and was lost. "The ache we feel for his loved ones, for the gentleman himself, is beyond description. We are all unable to communicate the depth of the sorrow we feel over the incident".
Minutes before the passenger fell from the vessel, while he engaged in a type of vertical push up from the bulwark of the vessel, a crew member had approached him and told him to climb down from having been sitting atop that same bulwark.
Although the passenger initially appropriately responded to the warning of the crew member and climbed back down onto the deck, when the crew member turned to go back into the interior of the vessel, the passenger started in on the even more dramatic form of dangerous play.
"To our passengers we say, we so, so sincerely regret that your night on the water should be marked by such tragedy. To our crew, we say, bless you for your efforts and commitment to your training, and, to the family of the lost passenger, there are no words – none – to convey our deepest and most sincere sympathies. We are heartbroken."
Almon called the incident a freak accident, and insists the cruise company could've done more to save his friend.
"I think he was just joking around and he slipped," Almon said. "I think if they were properly trained, they would've been easily able to do a simple rescue."
Cox Media Group