GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 18, 2010

Update: Coast Guard finds Patriot sank on its own

NOTE: This is a corrected version of this story. The initial version incorrectly reported that that the U.S. Coast Guard Report of Investigation showed alcohol in the blood of both crew members and drugs in the blood of John Orlando.  That is not the case. In fact, the report showed no alcohol in the blood of either crewman and showed no drugs in the blood of John Orlando. As the story notes, portions of the report were redacted. We offer our apologies to the families of both men for our incorrect reporting.

 

The U.S. Coast Guard released findings Friday vindicating that the Gloucester fishing vessel Patriot likely capsized and sank from a chain reaction of mechanical failures, design flaws and possible human judgment error — all leading to the drowning deaths of Capt, Matteo Russo, 36, and his 59-year-old father-in-law, John Orlando.

The call for help from Josie Russo, Matteo's wife and Orlando's daughter, in the early-morning hours of Jan. 3, 2009, yielded a delayed and confused search and rescue effort.

But the cause report released Friday made clear that even the finest work would almost certainly not have saved her husband or her father, whose bodies were recovered from the icy water of Middle Bank, 14 miles from port.

In Gloucester's tight-knit fishing community, the tragedy has lingered in the stubborn fog of uncertainty surrounding the events leading to the failure of a boat and crew considered among the port's finest.

Autopsies by the state medical examiner showed the presence of a controlled substance in the blood of Russo, but indicated no presence of drugs or alcohol in the blood of Orlando, the Coast Guard report indicates. Further details were redacted from the report obtained by the Times.

The boat got underway at night and short one member of the standard crew, though the report noted that the Patriot had completed a number of trips with the crew of just two.

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