A tugboat captain who perished over the weekend, and his three crew members, had only seconds between their mayday call to the Coast Guard — and the storm-tossed Atlantic’s swallowing of the Sea Bear, officials said Sunday.
The Sea Bear went down a mile out from The Pines section of Long Island’s Fire Island as it, and two other tugs started their long trek back to their base in New Haven, Conn.
The captain jumped into the chilly ocean waters without a survival suit on; the three surviving crew members, who managed to get their suits on, were found huddled and clinging to two life rings.
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"They had only seconds to let us know before they sank," Coast Guard Petty Officer Morgan Gallapis told The AP.
The body of the captain, Donald Maloney, 60, of Peckville, Pennsylvania, was found after the crew was pulled from the 37-degree waters, at around 5 p.m. Saturday, Suffolk County cops said.
Officials said Maloney "panicked and jumped into the water without putting on his immersion suit.”
The survivors included Lars Vetland, 43, of Staten Island; and Jason Reimer, 38, of Middletown, NJ and Rainer Bendixen, 22, of Bay Head, NJ.
Maloney came from a family of tug captains, Newsday reported Monday -- and knew well the dangers of the open ocean.
"They were so close to the shore, maybe they were trying to get it to the beach to keep from sinking," said 58-year-old Kevin Maloney, also a tug operator.
“He probably thought he could make it and didn't have time to put on his suit because he was concentrating on steering."
The Coast Guard is investigating.