State police and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will spend Saturday morning searching along the Housatonic River for a missing 75-year-old man from Woodbridge.
Capt. Raul Camejo of the Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police said state police have great divers using search dogs and sonar boats searching for Richard Fiske - someone whom Camejo said appears to have been a good family man - and he's confident Fiske's body will be found in the Housatonic River, where his boat capsized on Monday. Camejo said he's confident the body will be found."
"I'm never going to say never," he said at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.. "It's up to the state police dive team when they say they have physically done everything they can and can't pursue it any further," "That hasn't happened yet. ...They are the best resource we have; they are the best around. If they do have to call it off, I'll put a boat out here at least every morning and patrol the shoreline until we find him. If that's today, tomorrow, next week, next month, whatever. We will continue the search. I'm never going to say never."
He said he's confident not only because of the people who are conducting the search, but also because of the elements. He said it is a contained body of water and that although there is a dam downstream, he's never heard of a body going over the dam. "And there have been drownings here before," he said.
Note: End of Wednesday Night's Update; Updates Will Continue.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, two boats combed the Housatonic River from the Stevenson Dam on the Oxford-Monroe line into Shelton near Indian Well State Park on Tuesday; that area was shut down to the public. As of 1:45 p.m., police had not found Fiske's body and didn't have much more information than they did on Monday afternoon, when news crews from all over the state flocked to the Oxford-Seymour line to get the latest news. More than 50 firefighters from Derby, Newtown, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton responded on Monday but were called off scene just before 9 p.m. Monday when state police postponed the search for the evening, indicating the effort had turned from a rescue operation to a recovery effort.
The search on Monday stretched far and wide along at least four towns in the Naugatuck Valley and included rescuers on boats with sonar scanners inside the water, all-terrain riders and walkers on the river banks and an air search by at least two helicopters, including one from the U.S. Coast Guard and one from the state police. Though there were far fewer people searching on Tuesday, the area the search encompassed was similar. Several volunteers are helping police and the DEEP, Ramos said. The Housatonic Dam upstream from the boating club was shut down while investigators conducted the search; boats containing DEEP workers and state police patrolled the river on Tuesday but didn't bring Fiske's body to shore.
Ramos said the water temperature on the river as of 9 p.m. Monday was 45 degrees. At that temperature, he said, the Coast Guard estimates Fiske could have survived for about nine hours. Officials now believe Fiske is dead.
DEEP officials said Fiske was first reported missing at 2 p.m. Monday, three-and-a-half hours after he signed out a scull boat from the New Haven Rowing Club on Route 34 in Oxford; a DEEP official said someone saw the capsized boat about 1 p.m. but did not call it in at that point.
Fiske went into the water alone, and state police said Monday they believe he was wearing a floatation device around his waist. That type of device, police said, needs to be pulled manually in order for it to inflate and fully protect the person who is wearing it. Police do not know if that device failed, whether Fiske had a medical issue that caused him to fall out of the boat - though they said all indications are that he was healthy - or if it was something else that caused the boat to capsize. DEEP officials and state police are investigating this as an accident and plan to continue the search until they find Fiske's body.
Fiske, who the Cheshire Herald reports is a former Cheshire resident, is the owner of Ravenswood Homes of Cheshire. The company, which was formed by Richard "Dick" Fiske in 1963, has built more than 2,500 new homes throughout central Connecticut, including many upscale housing developments in Cheshire, Hamden, North Haven, Wallingford, Rocky Hill, Portland and Bethany, according to the company's website.
Fiske, an avid boater, is a member at the well-known boating club at 407 Roosevelt Drive in Oxford, according to Kyle Overturf, director of the State Environmental Conservation Police for the DEEP. Fiske's boat was found overturned a couple hundred yards from the boat launch there where Fiske's friends and family gathered on Tuesday and consoled one another while waiting to hear more from state investigators. His car was also found on Monday near the rowing club.
Friends and family either could not be contacted or declined to comment to Oxford Patch on Tuesday. Woodbridge land records indicate that a woman named Betsy Fiske, who is believed to be the missing man's wife, owned a home at 26 Inwood Road in Woodbridge.
A woman who picked up the phone at that address on Tuesday night declined to comment.