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Clam boat owned by local man catches fire in Mass.
By RICHARD DEGENER Staff Writer, (609) 463-6711, E-Mail/Press of Atlantic City

CAPE MAY - A commercial clamming vessel owned by a local man, but recently fishing out of New Bedford, Mass., caught fire Tuesday night and beached on Nantucket with one crewmember dying of an apparent heart attack.

"They were coming in from a clamming trip with 19 cages (of clams) aboard. While steaming in there was some sort of fire," said Daniel Cohen, the owner of the 72-foot Enterprise.

Cohen, speaking from Nantucket on a cell phone, said one crew member, William Langisera, 45, of New Bedford, died during the U.S. Coast Guard rescue operation. A helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod plucked the four-man crew from the life raft they had jumped into. Cohen said Langisera had the heart attack either in the rescue basket or in the helicopter. He died at Cape Cod Hospital, according to Kelly Newlin, a Coast Guard spokeswoman from Boston.

The Coast Guard has not released a cause of death, but Newlin said hypothermia and existing medical conditions might have contributed to the death. Enterprise Capt. John Verissimo and crewmen Shannon Pacheceo and Jose Barbosa, all from New Bedford, were treated and released from Cape Cod Hospital on Thursday.

Cohen, who owns commercial fishing boats in the Port of Cape May and in Point Pleasant, said the Enterprise was part of his Point Pleasant operation Fishing Vessels Enterprises, Inc. It had fished out of Point Pleasant for the past 20 years but more recently was being chartered to Alan Rencurrel of Holly Fisheries and was homeported in New Bedford, Cohen said. Rencurrel was in the process of selling two boats and was planning to buy the Enterprise. A lot of clamming boats from the mid-Atlantic region have been working New England waters for ocean clams.

Cohen said Enterprise, which is valued at $650,000, drifted and ran aground on the east side of Nantucket. The fuel is being pumped out of it and a salvage company is being hired to get it off the beach. Cohen said he does not yet know if it is a total loss.

Newlin said the fire began in the engine room. The crew called the Coast Guard on the distress frequency, donned survival suits and launched the life raft. When the Coast Guard arrived at 6:45 Tuesday night the vessel was about two miles east of Nantucket. It drifted to an area of the island called Sankaty Head and the fire burned itself out.

The Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office in Providence is conducting an investigation.

To e-mail Richard Degener at The Press:

[email protected]
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