The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is identifying Justin Harvey, 36, of Narragansett, as the decedent in a kayaking accident that took place in Narragansett on Oct. 1. A fisherman found Mr. Harvey’s body on a stretch of sand just east of Roger Wheeler State Beach Oct. 4 at 8 AM. Mr. Harvey was a commercial fisherman on a boat based in Point Judith.
A DEM Division of Law Enforcement investigation has found that Mr. Harvey and his girlfriend accessed the beach from a public right of way and paddled out in two separate kayaks at 9:30 PM Oct. 1. A strong tide pulled them farther from shore into rough water where Mr. Harvey’s kayak sank. His girlfriend jumped into the water and tried to rescue him but could not pull him up to the surface. A Marine Task Force contingent including boats from the Narragansett Fire Department, Portsmouth Fire Department, and the United States Coast Guard responded and searched for Mr. Harvey until 2 AM Oct. 2 before suspending because of poor weather conditions. The cause of death is not known at this time and will be determined by the Medical Examiners’ Office. The victim and his girlfriend were not wearing lifejackets at the time of the accident.
There have been three boating fatalities in Rhode Island in 2022 (Newport, July 14; Lincoln Woods State Park, July 23). All involved paddle craft and none of the victims was wearing a lifejacket at the time of the incident. DEM offers sincere sympathies to Mr. Harvey’s family and loved ones.