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Longtime Stonington borough employee drowned Sunday off Sandy Point

Stonington — The man who drowned as the result of a suspected boating incident on Sunday morning at Sandy Point was identified Monday by Stonington Borough Warden Jeffrey Callahan as longtime borough highway department employee Roger Collelo.

Collelo, who lived in the borough, was one half of the two-person borough highway crew and a fixture around town for at least 20 years, Callahan said Monday.  

Callahan, who was shaken by the loss, said he received a call on Sunday morning that Collelo was brought to shore after an accident on Sandy Point, an island off the coast of Stonington Borough and Westerly, R.I. Police have not released Collelo's name or any details about the incident. Callahan said he had heard Collelo, who he estimates to be in his late 50s, had either lost his footing or had a medical problem while setting his anchor.

“Almost everyone knew him and really cared about him a lot. Stonington Borough is a very small, tight-knit community,” Callahan said. “Roger and Sue (Cordeiro)… they could be seen around the village all the time, plowing the streets, sweeping the streets, maintaining the crosswalks, mowing the lawns… that sort of thing.”

Cordeiro is the second half of the highway crew.

Callahan said Collelo was an avid fishermen.

“It was his favorite thing in the world. He loved to go out on his boat and would sometimes bring back some extra fish and my wife and I would benefit from that,” Callahan said.

Theresa Hersh, chief at Stonington Ambulance Corps Inc., said the ambulance service was dispatched at 11:05 a.m. to respond to Walker’s Dock for a medical incident that had occurred on Sandy Point. A patient was being brought to the dock via a private boat and bystanders, one of whom was an off-duty nurse, were working on the patient.

The Stonington Borough Fire Department, Stonington police and a paramedic from Lawrence + Memorial Hospital were also at the scene. The patient was transported to Westerly Hospital. Hersh said she was not at liberty to discuss any further details.

A memorial for Collelo, a collection of flowers and flags from well-wishers, has appeared outside the borough hall on Church Street.

g.smith@theday.com

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