Report details crash that killed sailor

Published on October 23rd, 2019

The sailing community has been rocked through the tragic death of Sandra Tartaglino, a much beloved competitor and contributor to the sport. Following the announcement of the investigation findings, The Daily News has dug deeper in this report:

Newport, RI (October 23, 2019) – Alex Byczko of Ontario, Canada, was sitting on the left pontoon of the catamaran, the port side, while Sandra Tartaglino of Tiverton (RI), was on the right pontoon, starboard, as they traveled south on a port tack towards the center span of the Pell Bridge, according to a state Department of Environmental Management incident report.

“Without warning a power vessel traveling west struck the sailboat on its port side, at approximately a 90-degree angle, and rode over the sailboat, causing it to spin 180 degrees to port,” Byczko told DEM Environmental Police Officer Anthony Esposito, according to Esposito’s report of the fatal accident that killed Tartaglino on Aug. 11, a Sunday afternoon, around 2:45 p.m.

Tartaglino disappeared from sight at the time of the collision, Byczko told the officer.

“Once both vessels settled in the water, Byczko said he observed Tartaglino floating face down in the water with a large amount of blood around her,” the officer’s narrative said. “Byczko said that he requested that the parties aboard the powerboat attempt to bring Tartaglino aboard their vessel, but they were unable to do so, stating, ‘we don’t know how to get her up.’”

Law enforcement officers investigated the accident and DEM released their findings last week. They found no evidence Frank Teixeira, 75, of Portsmouth, intended or foresaw the consequences of his operations, knew his actions were wrong but proceeded anyway, or willingly acted recklessly knowing it would cause a death, according to a DEM press release.

“Mr. Teixeira has expressed profound grief over this tragic accident,” wrote attorney Christopher Gontarz, in a statement sent to the Daily News on behalf of Teixeira.

“He and his family express their deepest condolences to the family of Sandra Tartaglino,” the statement said. “As the thorough and complete investigation by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, United States Coast Guard, Newport Police Department and the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General states, this was a tragic calamity which has profound consequences for my client and especially for the Tartaglino family.”

DEM released a 15-page incident report to the Daily News on Monday (Oct. 21) after the newspaper filed an Access to Public Records request late last week.

The 2005 powerboat was a 28-foot white True World cabin cruiser called @Last valued at $50,000, the report says. The 2001 18-foot Nacra F18 Catamaran was valued at $18,000. Both vessels had hulls of fiberglass and uniglass, the report said. – Full report

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