Update: Conn. police baffled by missing rafters’ story

10/16/2014 12:30 PM |

This is reportedly the raft two Greenport men were in when they went missing in Long Island Sound late Wednesday. (Credit: NBCConnecticut.com)

Update (5 p.m. Thursday) A Connecticut police sergeant said investigators are still baffled as to why a missing Greenport rafter ran off in only his shorts after coming ashore in Connecticut early Thursday.

“I’ve been a cop 30 years and I’ve never seen this,” said Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn. “This is a new one for me.”

Brandon McCurie — who was living in Greenport with the other rafter, Angel Hernandez, while working for a furniture moving company — had ran after the pair knocked on a resident’s door early Thursday, Sgt. Dunn said.

At first police believed Mr. McCurie was hypothermic and was suffering from “psychological effects.” But he was eventually found walking in the street near the shoreline, Sgt. Dunn said. The man claimed he had been sleeping in a garbage receptacle all night to stay out of the rain, police said.

Sgt. Dunn said the garbage bin Mr. McCurie claims to have slept in was just a few hundred feet from where several television news crews had set up, though police are unsure whether that’s a believable story.

“We’re all asking the $64,000 question,” he said. “The why keeps coming back. Why did he do this? Why is he acting this way?”

Mr. Hernandez, the other rafter, had told police that the raft had washed ashore Wednesday afternoon when the pair decided to take it for a ride. The single oar inside broke while they were out on the water, stranding them, according to their account.

Mr. McCurie was later uncooperative with officers, but since he hadn’t committed a crime, he was not arrested or questioned further, Sgt. Dunn said.

Sgt. Dunn said the pair probably couldn’t see the shore while they were out in the rainstorm.

“When I responded to the call at 5:30 this morning I couldn’t see half a mile out from the shore into the water,” he said. “It was just pitch black … For all intents and purposes, these guys probably thought they were going to die.”

Both men have been treated and released, police said.

Update (12:30 p.m. Thursday) The second Greenport man who went missing while rafting in Long Island Sound has been found unharmed in Connecticut, Clinton police confirmed Thursday afternoon.

Police found 33-year-old Brandon McCurie “within the last hour,” a Clinton police dispatcher told The Suffolk Times. He was dry at the time he was found and was taken to the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center, though police said he was not injured.

Additional details were not immediately available. NBCConnecticut.com has reported that Mr. McCurie was sleeping in a garbage can when he was discovered by police.

Paul Squire

Update (9 a.m. Thursday): Southold Town police have confirmed that the two Greenport men who went missing while rafting in the Long Island Sound Wednesday made it to shore in Connecticut. But one man quickly went missing again.

Brandon McCurie and Angel Hernandez began banging on doors asking for help in Clinton, Conn. about 4:30 a.m. Thursday. After a resident of one of the homes called 911 for help, Mr. McCurie ran off, wearing only shorts. He has not been seen since, police said.

Mr. Hernandez was treated for hypothermia and is scheduled to be released from a Connecticut hospital later today, police said.

The Coast Guard also verified that the two men made it to shore.

“To get on a raft with no propulsion, crossing the sound like that, seems extremely high risk,” said Ensign Martin Betts, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “Thankfully they escaped relatively unscathed.”

Joseph Pinciaro

Update (2 a.m. Thursday): Southold Town police have identified the two men that are still missing in a gray inflatable raft on the Long Island Sound.

Greenport residents Brandon McCurie and Angel Hernandez, both 33, launched a nearly 6-foot boat in Greenport at around 4:30 p.m., officials said.

They sent a text message to their friend, Lindsay Johnston, 20, also of Greenport “showing one paddle in the boat,” police said.

Someone contacted police at around 6 p.m. and said there appeared to be a small boat drifting northeast on the Long Island Sound with two people in it, officials said.

“A patrol officer responded and by this time the object was now barely visible and not certain to be a boat,” the release states. “Southold Bay Constables responded and conducted a search from the last known point of sight east to East Marion and north to the border of Connecticut with negative results.”

As the Southold Bay Constable were returning to the dock in Mattituck Inlet, Ms. Johnston contacted police and said Mr. McCurie called her and said they were “drifting east fast” and couldn’t get to shore.

After police interviewed Ms. Johnston, they determined the two men were likely the same two subjects seen earlier and Southold Bay Constables returned to the scene and continued to search, officials said.

Two Suffolk County police helicopters assisted in the search. Orient and East Marion fire departments conducted a search of the shoreline from Rocky Point in East Marion to Orient Point, officials said.

Coast Guard boats from New London and Montauk assisted in the search, as well as boats from the Orient Fire Department and Plum Island, police said.

The Coast Guard will continue the search through the night, officials said.

The East Marion Fire Department assisted in the search at Truman's Beach in Orient Wednesday night. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)

The East Marion Fire Department assisted in the search at Truman’s Beach in Orient Wednesday night. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo photos)


A search is currently underway on the Long Island Sound for two men in their early 30s floating on a gray inflatable raft, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

The men left at around 5 p.m. Wednesday in a six-foot raft they found on the beach that had washed ashore a few days ago near a rental house they’ve been staying at in Greenport, said Mark Averill, a command duty officer at the Coast Guard’s Sector Long Island Sound.

One of them sent a text message to their friend at around 7 p.m. to say they were drifting east, he said, adding they left without life jackets and had taken only one paddle with them.

As of midnight, Mr. Averill said that text message was the last time anyone had heard from them.

“They said they believed they were heading toward Orient, but weren’t sure because they aren’t from the area,” Mr. Averill said. “The weather is suppose to deteriorate around 1 to 2 a.m. We hope to find the two gentlemen soon.”

Police and fire officials were also searching at Truman’s Beach in Orient Wednesday night.

Southold Town Police Lieutenant James Ginas said at the scene that East Marion and Orient fire department officials were searching along the shore and on the water for the two men. Southold Bay Constable, and Suffolk County Police Aviation are also searching.

“The wind and tide got the better of them,” he said.

Mr. Averill said the U.S. Coast Guard has taken lead on the search efforts and will continue looking for the two men through the night with several aircrafts and boats, including a cutter tiger shark from Newport R.I.

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East Marion ambulance at Truman's Beach in Orient.

East Marion ambulance at Truman’s Beach in Orient.

Police and fire officials at Truman's Beach in Orient.

Police and fire officials at Truman’s Beach in Orient.

A boat off the shore of Orient Point at around 10 p.m. Wednesday night searching for two missing men floating on an inflatable raft. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

A boat off the shore of Orient Point at around 10 p.m. Wednesday night searching for two missing men floating on an inflatable raft.