Couple who dies in tragic sailboat incident remembered by family

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE): A sunken boat is still lost in Greenwich Bay near Warwick after emergency responders pulled a man and woman out of the water on Tuesday.

The couple died after their sailboat overturned, according to officials.

Investigators are trying to figure out how a boat outing on a nice spring day turned into tragedy.

“She kept my family together and she was the glue of my family,” Savannah Carey told ABC6 News.

Carey said she spoke with her grandmother, Luann Carter Cole, 66, just a day before her body was found in the water.

“They were just going to be there for a couple of hours and leave,” Carey said.

Cole’s boyfriend, Robert Puchta, 62, was also found dead in the water.

Carey describes the pair as the perfect match. They were adventurous, active, and always looking for a challenge.

The two recently bought the 23-foot sailboat.

“She kept saying how excited she was to get this thing out on the water,” Carey said.

Carey said her grandmother and Puchta planned to go sailing on Monday but pushed it back to Tuesday because of bad weather.

Now, Carey is left with a lot of unanswered questions like what would have happened if they went the day before and what happened the day they died.

“She didn’t deserve what happened here,” Carey said. “She cared for everyone. She had such a caretaker mentality. She wanted everyone to be okay and be happy.”

As the search continues for the sailboat and officials investigate what went wrong, ABC6 News asked the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) how many boat fatalities there have been in Rhode Island in the last several years.

An official tells us there was 1 fatality in 2019 and 2 in 2020.

 

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