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Police: Body Of Missing New Rochelle Firefighter Found After Boat Capsizes Off Stamford

Alcohol May Have Contributed To The Death Of 30-Year-Old Keith Morris
Firefighter Keith Morris was killed after the boat he was piloting struck a break wall on July 22, 2012. (credit: Handout)

Firefighter Keith Morris was killed after the boat he was piloting struck a break wall on July 22, 2012. (credit: Handout)

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STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – The body of a New Rochelle firefighter has been found in the Long Island Sound near Stamford where a boat capsized late Sunday night.

Police said the body of 30-year-old Keith Morris was discovered near the accident scene around 12:15 p.m. Monday. His body was recovered in about 58 feet of water, according to Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officials.

Morris was at the helm of the 30-foot Sea Ray and was headed home to New Rochelle with four other passengers when the boat hit a break wall and capsized around 11:30 p.m Sunday, Stamford Police Sgt. Peter Wolff said.

“It’s like a punch in the gut. I mean everybody knew him. If anybody could come through something like this and survive a brush with disaster it would be Keith,” friend Andy Pavone told CBS 2′s Lou Young.

Officials believe Morris was ejected from the boat on impact.

First responders found two people on top of the overturned cabin cruiser and two others trapped underneath, WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane reported. The two underneath survived thanks to an air pocket, Connecticut Conservation Police Capt. Raul Camejo told CBS 2′s Young.

“A good Samaritan was the first person to see that the vessel had capsized and made initial contact with the vessel and then called 911,” Coast Guard Lt. Jeff Gennero said.

The Coast Guard brought the four passengers to shore in Greenwich just after 1 a.m. Morris’ brother was one of the survivors, but the conditions of the survivors was not immediately known, Young reported.

Morris, an eight-year veteran of the New Rochelle Fire Department, was well known and well-liked,  a life-long resident of the city on the Sound who had only recently taken up boating.

“He just got his boat last fall around September and I don’t think he had a lot of experience reading the sea lanes,” New Rochelle Dire Department Chief Louis DiMeglio told CBS 2′s Young.

Morris was leaving a Stamford restaurant for the trip back to New Rochelle, officials said. The harbor opening is marked by red and green lights. Inexplicably, he passed to the left of the red beacon and into the rocks when he shouldve gone to the right through the open channel.

“This one hits all of us really, really hard,” New Rochelle City Manager Chuck Strowe said.

Coast Guard crews from as far away as Cape Cod, as well as Stamford police and fire units, Connecticut State Police, Westchester County Aviation and authorities from Long Island all assisted in the search and rescue effort, the Coast Guard said.

Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash, police said.

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