TIVERTON, R.I. (AP) – Emergency crews continued to search Stafford Pond for a missing boater Monday, one day after an off-duty firefighter died while trying to save the man.

Firefighter Gerald Leduc, 53, died Sunday evening while diving for 39-year-old Joseph Traficante, who fell or jumped from a fishing boat during a storm and is presumed drowned. A cause of death has not been determined.

Leduc drove his jet ski to the scene after hearing a report about the missing man, said Denise deMedeiros, who was with Leduc and saw him enter the pond with his diving gear.

“It didn’t seem like he was in distress,” she told The Newport Daily News.

Divers from Westport, Mass., soon spotted Leduc motionless in the water.

He was taken to St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River, Mass., and pronounced dead. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

Dozens of firefighters gathered around the shore Monday while four dive teams searched the pond for Traficante, Blanchard said.

One resident, Joseph Arruda, watched from his van parked near a boat ramp. Arruda credited Leduc with saving his life in 1982 by tying a tourniquet on his leg to stop the bleeding after a car accident.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today,” Arruda said.

AP-ES-08-04-08 1702EDT


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