Boater shares story of finding swimmer missing from Fishers Island Sound
As fire and police boats from departments across the region scoured Fishers Island Sound for a 42-year-old woman reported missing Sunday evening, a couple returning from a five-day trip on a 20-foot Grady White boat heard a sound.
Greg Gineo recalled that his wife was on the bow and heard something, so they slowed down and shut the engine off. Nothing. They continued further, heard a voice again, and shut the engine off. After doing this a few times, they found the woman.
It was more than two hours after she had been reported missing.
But officials said she made it from the recreational vessel to a Coast Guard boat to shore, and that she declined medical treatment.
The Gineos had been traveling from East Harbor off Fishers Island to their slip at Masons Island Marina in Mystic, following a five-day trip that started with four days on Block Island. After seeing a few rescue boats, they put on the marine radio and learned someone was missing.
Mystic Fire Chief Anthony Manfredi Jr. said a call came in at 7:55 p.m. for a woman who was swimming off a sailboat and went missing. The call came in from the boat, which had a few other people aboard.
“The current was pretty tough last night,” Manfredi said Monday, “so she went missing, because she went away from the boat and they couldn’t find her.”
Coast Guard Petty Officer John Hightower said she went missing between Mystic and Fishers Island, and the agency launched a boat from Coast Guard Station New London.
Hightower said there were at least 10 boats searching for the woman, with most from fire and police departments in southeastern Connecticut. First responders also included members of a regional dive team, Mystic River Ambulance and Lawrence + Memorial Paramedics.
Greg Gineo said they “thought that we should go farther than most were searching, farther east, because it seemed like the wind was a little faster.” They started looking toward the Napatree area.
When they found her, she was “very exhausted, could barely swim,” Gineo said. They got her to the back of the boat with a Coast Guard-approved throwable cushion and a rope.
“We threw it to her and pulled her into the boat, and she took a rest at the swim ladder for, I dunno, a few minutes, and then we got her in. We were getting close to some of the reefs out there, so we wanted to get out of that dangerous area,” Gineo said. He recalled that he found the woman east of Latimer Reef Lighthouse.
Hightower had said earlier that two good Samaritans on a boat called Seafort found the swimmer between East Point on Fishers Island and Napatree Point, about two and a half nautical miles from her last known location. It was between 10 and 10:30 p.m., and the woman was alert and responsive.
The Gineos brought the woman to a Coast Guard boat, and Manfredi said the Coast Guard vessel took her to Noank Shipyard, where she was evaluated by EMS but declined treatment. First responders used Noank Shipyard as a staging area.
“We were happy to supply the responding agencies with a location to help facilitate the search and rescue efforts,” General Manager Harry Boardsen said in an email. “Due to our location on Fishers Island Sound, we have and always will, make our facilities available to the local police and fire departments as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and others to ensure safety on the sound.”
It was Boardsen who connected The Day with Greg Gineo: He said Gineo called the Noank Shipyard office on Monday. Gineo said he was looking to get in contact with the woman but has been unsuccessful.
Tammy Gineo said seeing the woman’s face when she got the spotlight on her will be in her memory for a long time.