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Last cruise of the season turns fatal

A final boating trip of the season turned tragic for a Massachusetts man on Columbus Day when he fell from his cabin cruiser in Boston Harbor and died despite his son’s rescue attempt.

Donald A. Cicolini, 68, of Saugus, apparently fell from the flybridge of his 32-foot Trojan, Darci Jewel, just before 7 p.m., Oct. 11.

The Coast Guard and other marine law enforcement authorities launched investigations of the accident to determine whether Cicolini suffered a heart attack before falling into the 59-degree water.

Daylight was nearly gone, winds were gusting from the west and waves were cresting at 3 feet when the incident occurred near Thompson Island in Dorchester Bay, according to investigators. Cicolini and his 31-year-old son, Donald “Pat” Cicolini, were on the flybridge when the elder man announced he was going below to use the head, according to the victim’s brother, Saugus Harbormaster Vincent Cicolini.

“It looks as though my brother fell into the water on his way down the ladder,” the harbormaster said, adding that his nephew stopped the boat, grabbed a life ring and dove into the chilly water to save his father, a non-swimmer who was not wearing a life jacket. “My brother was face down in the water. Donald Pat had the ring around him. He turned him over and tried to do CPR until his arms got too tired and he just couldn’t hang on any more.”

An unidentified woman on board also entered the water and attempted to assist with the rescue, Cicolini said. The woman was able to swim back to the boat.

A Coast Guard patrol boat from Point Allerton Station in Hull pulled the younger Cicolini from the water because he was too exhausted to climb aboard the Darci Jewel after treading water. He was taken to New England Medical Center in Boston where he was treated for hypothermia and released.

Later in the evening, the victim washed up on a Quincy beach about a mile from where the incident occurred, and was found by a local police officer. Paramedics attempted to revive the victim who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Vincent Cicolini said his brother, nephew, the woman and two of the victim’s male friends from East Boston had planned to take the boat on a last cruise of the season and were headed home from a Marina Bay restaurant in Quincy when the tragedy unfolded.

“It was going to be their last voyage before the boat got hauled for the winter,” Cicolini said.

The deceased kept the boat in nearby Winthrop, where he also owned and operated a jewelry store, Darci and Son Jewelers.

Vincent Cicolini said his brother likely died from a heart attack and did not drown. “I’ve been a harbormaster for 40 years and in all my experience, I know that when somebody drowns, they take in water and that tends to sink the body. It might be three or four days before the gasses bring it back to the surface and it washes in,” he said. “My brother had heart problems. If he died of a heart attack, which I’m convinced he did, at least it would be quick.”

Coast Guard Petty Officer Lisa Hennings said the water was 59 degrees F.