STAMFORD -- A New Rochelle, N.Y. firefighter is presumed dead after the boat he was driving rammed into a break wall in Stamford Harbor late Sunday night and capsized, officials said.
Keith Morris, 30, was driving the boat with four people on board when the accident happened just after 11:30 p.m. Sunday, police said. The four others -- two men and two women -- were taken to shore in Greenwich after being rescued at about 1:15 a.m.
The five were returning back to New Rochelle after a night at the Crab Shell restaurant on Southfield Avenue on a 24-to-28-foot Sea Ray when the accident happened. A man and a woman were trapped inside the boat for about 45 minutes after the accident, which took place as Morris was trying to navigate the boat out of the harbor.
Police suspect alcohol was a factor in the accident.
The two men and two women who were rescued declined medical treatment when brought to shore, police said.
Police set up a command center Monday morning near the Czesck Marina on Stamford Harbor, expecting the search to continue throughout the day.
In a news conference just before 9 a.m., Stamford police said the search was changing from a rescue mission to a recovery mission because of the amount of time for which Morris has been missing.
At about the same time, the boat was pulled from the water near the Ponus Yacht club off Bateman Way.
Rachel Rangelov, of 75 Saddle Rock Road, said she was half asleep in her bed with her husband working on a computer next to her when "we heard a bang and a few minutes later we heard people yelling for help," she said. "Help help help!"
Her husband, Robert Rangelov, got out of bed and went outside to see what was happening and call police.
Rachel Rangelov said the accident was especially tragic for the Shippan section of the city, which is still reeling from a Christmas day fire that killed three girls and their grandparents on Shippan Avenue.
"We've had too much tragedy in Shippan," she said. "We are all a little horrified that someone else has died here."
She said she was wondering if she could have done something more. She and her husband had the French doors to their bedroom wide open or they wouldn't have heard the crash, she said.
Stamford Police Lt. Phil Mazzucco said at about 6:30 a.m. that a Coast Guard helicopter called in from Cape Cod was going to temporarily halt its search while a storm moved through the area. By 8 a.m., the helicopter was back in the air.
Rain was falling and lighting was visible on the horizon as the search was interrupted.
In addition to Stamford police and the Coast Guard chopper, emergency crews from Greenwich, Darien and Norwalk responded to the incident, Mazzucco said.
A marine police unit from Darien was first on the scene.
Police received a call at about 11:30 p.m. from residents who said they heard the boat crash and people screaming for help. A boater in the area also called to report the capsizing, Mazzucco said.
-- For updates throughout the day, follow reporter John Nickerson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jnickadvocate