Update – December 10: Portsmouth Police Department this morning announced that they have recovered the body of the woman who fell off the Prudence Island Ferry earlier this week. Portsmouth Police also identified the woman.

Prudence Island resident falls from Prudence Island Ferry

“On December 9, 2021, at approximately 12 pm the Portsmouth Police were advised that a deceased female party had been recovered from the waters of Walker Cove in Bristol, R.I. Detectives from the Portsmouth Polie Department responded to the scene and were able to positively identify the woman as 39-year -old Laura Ward of Prudence Island. Ward had been missing since the night of December 6, 2021, after she had fallen from the Prudence Island Ferry into the water”.


Original Story

At approximately 7:19 pm on Monday night, the United States Coast Guard Northeast announced that it was is responding to a person in the water in Narragansett Bay.

According to Portsmouth officials, a woman fell off of the Prudence Island Ferry.

Coast Guard Stations Air Station Cape Cod, and the Narragansett Bay Marine Task Force were originally engaged in the search.

At approximately 10:41 pm, the Coast Guard announced that Coast Guard Cutter Coho was en route to search through the night after relieving Castle Hill.

At that time the coast guard said that Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod and Coast Guard Station Castle Hill will return to base and continue searching at first light.

At 7:58 am on Tuesday, the Coast Guard announced that Station Castle Hill, Air Station Cape Cod, Coast Guard Cutter Coho, and the Narragansett Bay Marine Task Force are continuing their search for the person in the water in the vicinity of Narragansett Bay as of first light this morning.

The Portsmouth Police Department issued the following press release at 11:44 am on Tuesday.

On December 6, 2021, at approximately 6:30 pm the Portsmouth Police were alerted that a female passenger had fallen into the water from the Prudence Island Ferry and was now missing. The ferry had departed Bristol at 5:45 pm and was on its way to Prudence Island. The Coast Guard, Bristol, and Portsmouth worked alongside several other agencies searching the area waters for several hours. High winds, darkness, and rough seas hampered the search effort. The search was called off at approximately 11:00 pm and resumed this morning at approximately 9 am.

While the search was ongoing, members of the Portsmouth Police Detective Division responded to Prudence Island and interviewed the other passengers. The vessel was reportedly west of Hog Island in the vicinity of Poppasquash Point when the woman fell from the ferry. The woman is a 39-year old resident of Prudence Island. Witnesses reported she was alone on the deck of the vessel when the incident occurred. From several witnesses’ accounts, it appeared the woman intentionally climbed over the deck railing and entered the water. At this time the search for the missing woman is ongoing and the incident is still under investigation.

At 11:58 am on Tuesday the United States Coast Guard announced that they had suspended the active search pending further information.

“The active search in the vicinity of #NarragansettBay has been suspended pending further information. @USCG crews searched a total of 10 hours and 39 square nautical miles with no sign on the reported PIW,” USCGNortheast posted on Twitter.

Update: December 9 at 8:05 pm – WPRI is reporting that a body has been pulled from the water in Bristol; police investigating possible link to Prudence Island search

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).