Boat owner: RI crash that killed 2 women happened during unauthorized joyride by mechanics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Authorities have released the identities of two Massachusetts women killed when their boat slammed into a rocky outcropping in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay.

The Department of Environmental Management on Monday said Alesia Ann Desa, of Dighton, and Kaylee Therrien, of Assonet, died following the accident early Sunday. Both were 23 years old.

The DEM and attorney general's office are investigating the crash. They have not released the names of the other three people on board.

The boat's owner tells The Associated Press that two of them were boat mechanics who worked for him, and who went on an unauthorized "midnight joyride." Richard Cromwell, who owns a boat repair and service shop, says neither of the men is an experienced boater.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Two boat mechanics and three others were on an unauthorized "midnight joyride" early Sunday when their boat slammed into a rocky outcropping, killing two women, the boat's owner and the men's employer told The Associated Press on Monday.

The two mechanics have worked for years for Maritime Solutions, an eight-employee boat engine repair shop in Portsmouth, but were not experienced boaters, shop-owner Richard Cromwell told the AP.

Cromwell also owns Freedom Boat Club, which owned the 22-foot Sea Ray involved in the crash on Narragansett Bay. The shop had just replaced the boat's engine, and the mechanics had access to it, he said.

"They decided to go for a midnight joyride, and obviously, a very, very sad ending to it all. Our hearts go out to the families," he said. "They just had a major lapse of judgment."

The boat sent out a distress call around 2 a.m. Sunday after it flipped upon hitting the rocks on an outcropping known as Despair Island, the Department of Environmental Management said.

Five people were on board, including the two 23-year-old Massachusetts women who died. A 25-year-old Massachusetts woman, a 25-year-old man from Rhode Island and a 27-year-old man from Massachusetts were injured, the DEM said.

Authorities had not released their names as of Monday afternoon.

The Rhode Island attorney general's office was investigating. Given the hour of the accident, the office will look into whether alcohol was a factor, said Michael Healey, an attorney general's spokesman.

Cromwell said one of the mechanics could handle boats, but he wouldn't define either one of them as experienced boaters, calling them "far better mechanics than boat operators."

"I've done a lot of boating over my years. It's a different world out there at night. Visibility is very difficult. It's not a place for amateurs," he said.

Despair Island lies west of Prudence Island, and the Department of Environmental Management said it is sometimes underwater depending on the tides. Cromwell said he knew of it from the charts, but had never been there himself.

"It's a place that people try to stay away from," he said. "They clearly must have been confused as to where they were."