Out on his boat in the Long Island Sound, Dr. Richard Melucci, an anesthesiologist from Mount Sinai, texted one of his sisters to say he was having “the best time ever,” according to his father.
Melucci, 43, an avid boater, had set out across the Sound on Saturday with his wife, Maryann, from Mount Sinai, where he kept his new 25-foot boat, his father said.
“He’d been working very hard lately,” Richard Melucci, 70, said of his son. “so the two of them were just out relaxing for the day and were having a wonderful day.”
About 6 p.m., the pair was near Charles Island off the Connecticut coast on their way back to Long Island when the boat owner somehow fell overboard, according to a news release from Milford Fire Rescue in Milford, Connecticut.
His wife notified the Coast Guard and they arrived and found Melucci in the water. Rescue workers transported him to a hospital in Milford, where he was pronounced dead. Milford police are investigating, officials said.
The younger Melucci, his father said, was a principal in Long Island Anesthesia Physicians in Rocky Point and also affiliated with John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson.
“He was on deck and the weather changed and somehow he fell overboard,” Melucci said of his son, whom he called “Ricky.”
Melucci said his son could swim but chilly water meant hazardous conditions.
Officials with the National Weather Service said the water temperature early Saturday night was between 45 and 50 degrees.
“He has a large pool at home but the water is very cold now,” Melucci said. “You don’t last very long.”
Melucci added of his daughter-in-law, Maryann Melucci: “From the boat, she tried to save him.”
Melucci said he did not know what type of boat his son had or how the man’s wife tried to rescue him. Authorities were not available for comment Sunday. Maryann Melucci was not up to speaking with reporters Sunday, her father-in-law said.
The couple had been married five years and had a “beautiful blended family,” the elder Melucci’s wife, Rosanne, said. Her son had three children of his own and his wife had two.
Melucci enjoyed taking his children and other family members out boating and bought a larger vessel thinking it would be safer on the Sound.
“That was a new boat — it was larger than his first boat, which was about 17 feet,” Richard Melucci said. He said his son got his first boat about five years ago and had traded it in for the new one.
“He realized how treacherous the Sound was,” the elder Melucci said.
Rosanne Melucci said her son had loved boats since he was a boy and it was “in his genes — my father was a boater.”
As of Sunday afternoon, funeral arrangements had not been made but Rosanne Melucci said a gathering of about 40 family members was expected at their Port Jefferson Station home for Easter dinner as planned before her son’s death.
She said her son Richard, one of five children and the oldest of three boys, had been looking forward to the gathering.
“I can never get over the loss of my son — he was the warmest, most caring and responsible human being that I’ve ever met,” said Rosanne Melucci, 66. But her husband added, “The family has to stay together.”