, Gloucester, MA

Patriot Stories

July 10, 2009

Survival suit from Patriot recovered

Found off Wellfleet, Coast Guard investigators take possession

A survival suit believed to be that of Matteo Russo, whose fishing boat Patriot sank in January under still unknown circumstances, has been recovered off the Cape Cod shore by a lifeguard.

The suit, enclosed in an orange bag with no signs of being worn before entering the water, was spotted floating in the surf Monday between Lecount Hollow and Marconi beaches on the Atlantic coast of Wellfleet, about halfway up the forearm of the Cape, the Coast Guard confirmed yesterday.

After pulling it from the water between 20 and 30 feet from the beach, the lifeguard found the name Russo on the suit, according to Angela Sanfilippo, president of the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association.

The suit was taken to Wellfleet Police and is now in the possession of Coast Guard investigators working to determine what sank the Patriot and took the life of the 36-year-old Russo and his mate and father-in-law John Orlando, 59.

A spokeswoman for the Coast Guard yesterday would not confirm whether the suit was believed to belong to Russo, although she did acknowledge that it had been taken by investigators working on the Patriot case. Wellfleet Police were also unable to confirm whether the suit could be identified.

No other items or debris are known to have been recovered in the area near where the suit was found.

Sanfilippo announced news of the suit's recovery to those gathered in support of the fishing industry, including scores of fishermen and their families, at a Gloucester vigil Wednesday night, hours after she was contacted by the lifeguard's family about the discovery.

"Every time something happens, it relives it," Sanfilippo said by phone yesterday about the grief the Patriot's loss has caused family of the crew and fellow Gloucester fishermen.

Sanfilippo said she contacted the Coast Guard about the suit yesterday morning.

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