A Casco Bay Lines ferry traveled from Portland to Peaks Island and was returning to the mainland Tuesday afternoon when the captain heard on his marine radio that a passenger had gone overboard and was picked up by a fishing vessel, the ferry service operations manager said on Wednesday.

“We have no idea what happened,” said Nick Mavodones, operations manager for Casco Bay Lines. “Nobody reported it. The four-person crew didn’t see anything.”

The Coast Guard identified the person who went overboard as John Richio, 55, of Portland.

The Coast Guard reported late Tuesday that crewmen on the fishing vessel Christina & Caelyn pulled Richio from the water. The men initially thought they saw a harbor seal, but realized it was a person when he waved at them.

It’s not clear how long Richio was in the water. Initial reports said the incident happened around 5:15 p.m. But on Wednesday, Mavodones said the ferry, Aucocisco III, left the terminal in Portland at 2:15 p.m with 36 passengers. It unloaded passengers and freight on Peaks Island and started the return trip at 2:45 p.m. Shortly after that, the ferry captain heard on the radio’s emergency channel that the fishing boat had retrieved a passenger.

Richio was pulled from the water near Bug Light in South Portland. He was on the fishing boat when a Coast Guard rescue boat arrived on the scene. According to the Coast Guard, the water temperature was 38 degrees.

The fishing boat took him to the dock in Portland, where they were met by an ambulance, which transported him to Maine Medical Center for hypothermia treatment.

Mavodones, who was a ferry captain for 17 years, said it’s rare for someone to go overboard and not be spotted immediately. But at this time of year, passengers tend to be below decks and out of the weather. There are also few recreational boats in the harbor in April.

“The fishing boat happened to be in the right place at the right time and truly saved his life,” Mavodones said.

This story will be updated.

Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or

[email protected]


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