Pond search continues as firefighter mourned
As they continue to mourn the loss of one of their own, members of the Tiverton Fire Department continued to lead the search for a man who went missing in Stafford Pond Sunday evening.
As of 11:45 Monday morning, Environmental Police Sgt. Steven P. Criscione said various units, including dive and aerial teams, from Rhode Island and Massachusetts were continuing to search for a man believed to have drowned Sunday evening. All crews appeared to be gathered at the Stone Bridge Fire Department Water District treatment plant.
Criscione identified the man as Joseph Traficonti. He said the 39-year-old man is thought to have resided in Rehoboth.
Tiverton Fire Department Lt. Mark Raimels also confirmed Tiverton firefighter Gerald Leduc died during Sunday night’s search efforts due to cardiac arrest.
Raimels said the 52-year-old Leduc was at least a 25-year veteran of the fire department, beginning as a volunteer at the age of 16. The Tiverton resident has two sons in their early 20s, Raimels said.
Criscione said Traficonti was boating with his girlfriend Brandy Hurst Sunday when severe weather began to pass through the area. He said as heavy rains deluged the couple they attempted to return in their 10-foot vessel to a public boat ramp on Old Stafford Road. The boat was powered by a six horsepower outboard motor, Criscione said.
At some point, however, Criscione said Traficonti went over board. Hurst then called 911 before donning a life jacket and attempting to rescue Traficonti.
Criscione said initial responders pulled Hurst from the water upon their arrival.
Criscione said Hurst was born in 1977 and he reported her as having addresses in Rehoboth and East Providence, R.I. He said Hurst was being interviewed in an attempt to learn what may have caused Traficonti to go overboard. He said attempts are also being made to locate witnesses who may have observed the incident from shore.
Criscione described Stafford Pond as a popular destination for boating and fishing, noting it is stocked with trout by the state. He said the pond is between 700 to 900 acres large with depths reaching 20 feet in places.
As that search continued, the thoughts of firefighter Gerald Leduc was also on the minds of those at Stafford Pond today.
A black stripe covering a section of his badge in honor of Leduc, Raimels said the ongoing search from Traficonti remains the priority over mourning Leduc.
“I don’t think this has really hit us yet,” Raimels said. “Until we make this recovery we really need to do the job we’re here to do, that’s why we’re here.”
Raimels said Tiverton does not have a formal dive team, however, Leduc is a certified diver who has participated in search and rescue operations in the past.
Tiverton Police Lt. Patrick Jones said that department is working with the Rhode Island State Police to investigate Leduc’s death, while the Department of Environmental Management is leading the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Traficonti’s disappearance.
Jones said a member of the fire department is with Leduc’s family.
“Whatever the family wishes, we’ll do,” Jones said.
E-mail Will Richmond at firstname.lastname@example.org