2017 Year in Review with Cape Wide News

HYANNIS – 2017 was another busy year for Cape Wide News, as its reporters and photographers captured breaking public safety news across Cape Cod. We’ve compiled a list of some of the stories that you, are readers, clicked on the most during the past 12 months.

Barnstable Lifeguard Saves Choking Infant

A Barnstable lifeguard saved the life of a choking 14-month-old boy in early August at Craigville Beach in Centerville.

Jake Avery, 19, was on duty late in the afternoon when the father of the toddler ran up to the lifeguard stand and said his son was choking and had stopped breathing.

Jake Avery

Avery said he blew one long whistle to alert other lifeguards on the beach that an emergency was happening, jumped off the stand, and ran to aid the baby.

He immediately performed the Heimlich maneuver until a piece of fruit stuck in the child’s throat popped out and the infant began crying.

“You hold him in one arm, give him five back blows, and then you switch to the other side and do five chest compressions. I did that until the object was dislodged,” said Avery in explaining how he responded.

“It was all adrenaline and pure training. It was almost immediate that I knew what to do,” said Avery at Dowes Beach in Osterville Wednesday, where he was back on duty.

The Harwich resident, who attends Brandeis University during the school year, credited the strong training program run by the Barnstable Recreation Department.

Body Found in Retired Coast Guard Boat in Chatham

The Coast Guard and State and Chatham Police investigated the discovery of a body in a retired Coast Guard boat in front of Station Chatham in late July.

A Coast Guard spokesperson said the body, in a decomposed state, was located Sunday night inside the 44-foot motorboat on display on the lawn.

The body was identified by friends and family on social media as Matthew Amsler, 24, who was last seen in the area of Lighthouse Beach in October 2016.

According to a statement from Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, the body was found in a closed compartment of the boat. He said there did not appear to be any signs of foul play.

The circumstances surrounding how he got into the boat remain under investigation.

Massive Provincetown Fire

A major blaze broke out in downtown Provincetown on Memorial Day Weekend. The blaze started at The Red Shack in Lopes Square between the Surf Club, Tatiana’s Foot Long Hot Dogs and The Coffee Pot.

All the businesses were in a block long building at 315 Commercial Street that runs to the foot of MacMillan Wharf. With the town jammed for the holiday weekend, police kept watch on large crowds that gathered on Commercial Street and on the beach behind the building to watch the firefight.

The fire quickly went through the roof and destroyed a big section of the block.

Three alarms were sounded bringing mutual aid as far as Harwich to the scene with other units from all over the Cape covering other fire stations.

Provincetown firefighters were credited with stopping the fire from consuming even more buildings. There were no serious injuries. Reconstruction began in late 2017 and should be completed later in 2018.

While the fire was determined to be accidental, the exact cause was never pinpointed, although an electrical issue was suspected.

Cahoon Hollow Beach Parking Lot Washed Out

Heavy rains did major damage in mid-August at the Cahoon Hollow Beach parking lot in Wellfleet.A large section of dune collapsed taking an unoccupied car with it.

A large section of the parking lot in front of the Beachcomber slid into the ocean during the overnight hours, leaving town officials with the question of what to do next.

After the collapse, they created a safe path for pedestrians who want to walk to the beach from the bluff, but that was only a short-term solution.

“The beachcomber remained open throughout the whole thing, it has parking behind it, the town parking lot in front is still closed to vehicle parking, however the comber is still running the free shuttle from White Crest for people who want to go to Cahoon Hollow,” said Wellfleet Beach Administrator Suzanne Thomas.

“It’s going to be a slow process and no one has landed on anything except to stabilize as much as possible the parking lot and deal with storm water runoff,” said Thomas.

The biggest concern for the town is storm water runoff mitigation and a long-term solution calls for someone who specializes in it to come up with a recommendation and for the town to accept it and have it go out to bid, but that could take a year.

Murder in Cotuit

Local and State Police and the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office investigated a brutal murder in Cotuit in early 2017.

Christopher S. Fratantonio, 36, is accused of killing his wife, Mary J. Frantantonio, in their home at 89 Trout Brook Road.

According to Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, Barnstable Police received several 911 calls about a violent crime that happened at a home.

On arrival, officers encountered Fratantonio outside the house. According to a police report, he immediately made statements to officers that led them to believe he had stabbed his wife.

Once inside, police located her body in a bedroom with multiple stab wounds.

Fratantonio was subsequently arrested and charged with murder. According to police, he gave a detailed description of his motive and how he allegedly carried out the attack, including the location of the knife.

“It was a very difficult crime scene to deal with for the police, owing to a number of circumstances,” said O’Keefe.

Mary Fratantonio was a first-year 8th grade special education teacher at Barnstable High School.

O’Keefe could not comment on the circumstances surrounding the killing, but said there was something, “that was a trigger for this event.”

“It appears from all of the circumstances thus far that we can gleen, that this was a domestic violence murder,” said O’Keefe.

Friends of the family were shocked Tuesday afternoon to hear the news of the murder.

Eric Christensen of Hyannis went to school with Fratantonio’s brother at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School and later worked with the suspect for several years at a Cape Cod flooring company.

Both would later go on to start their own companies and help each other out with jobs. Christensen said he and others who knew the family were shocked to hear the news.

“They just seemed like a regular, everyday married couple,” he said.

“We never saw this coming,” said Christensen.

Christopher Fratantonio had two children with Mary and two children from a previous relationship. “I feel bad for the kids, I feel bad for her (Mary) mother and her stepdad. It’s just shocking,” Christensen said.

At Barnstable High School where Mary, who was also known by many as Molly, taught, principal Pat Clark said crisis intervention teams provided grief counseling for students and staff.

As of late 2017, Fratantonio was awaiting trial.

High Speed Ferry Crashes Into Hyannis Breakwater

The Steamship Authority’s high-speed ferry Iyanough crashed into the breakwater in Hyannis Harbor in mid-June, prompting a large-scale operation to remove the 57 people stranded on board, including 15 who were taken to Cape Cod Hospital for evaluation.
Rescue crews were able to float the ferry off the rocks several hours later and escort if back to the docks.

In its place, then-General Manager Wayne Lamson said the SSA had contracted with the SeaStreak ferry line to use their vessel Wall Street, that was going to be used in a limited capacity while the Iyanough was repaired.

Lamson said the Iyanough was being operated by a veteran crew.

“The two officers on board the vessel have over 60 years of combined service with the Steamship Authority,” he said. Crew testing for alcohol came back negative and drug testing results were pending.

Rough seas hampered the rescue efforts in the hours after the crash, forcing the crew and passengers to stay on the crippled vessel for several hours while rescue teams devised an evacuation plan.

A Coast Guard helicopter responded to the scene to airlift the most seriously injured people to waiting ambulances at Barnstable Municipal Airport. A doctor on board the boat assisted with those who were injured.

Mutual aid came in from surrounding towns’ rescue boats from as far away as Harwich.

Passenger Kyle King said he initially thought the boat hit another vessel. After several hours, he said rescue crews were able to get them off the ferry.

“They hooked up a ladder up to the side of the jetties, made us climb over and hop down and on to the Coast Guard boat,” he said.

Passenger Kane Barton said he heard a huge jolt when they stuck the rocks.

“And I flew forward and I looked up and everyone flew forward and I didn’t know what to do so all of sudden I started grabbing life vests,” Barton said.

Lamson would shed additional light on the events immediately prior to the grounding of the M/V Iyanough in Hyannis Harbor on June 16 during a meeting later that month.

He indicated that the captain misinterpreted a metal pole on the Hyannis breakwater for a buoy. The vessel collided with the breakwater around 9:35 p.m. that evening.

According to Lamson, the Iyanough approached the “HH” navigation buoy, which is about 2,500 yards south from the entrance to the main channel in Hyannis harbor. At that point, the captain asked the pilot to deploy the boat’s searchlight to illuminate Buoy 4, the next aid to navigation on the normal route for the vessel.

“When the captain returned to the RADAR, he recognized the familiar pattern of Buoys 4, 5, and 6 and began adjusting the vessel’s course to accommodate its entrance into the main Hyannis channel,” Lamson said. “The Pilot was unable to locate any navigational aids with the searchlight.”

“But what the Captain has interpreted on the RADAR as Buoy number 4 was in fact the metal pole at the ending of the breakwater, which is about 800 yards north of Buoy number 4 and also north of the channel entrance,” Lamson added.

The breakwater was not visible to the officers, due to waves that are estimated to have been 8 feet high at the time. Lamson said that obscured the breakwater’s RADAR image, but the pole was picked up because it remained higher than the waves. What the captain believed to be buoys 5 and 6 were actually sailboats, according to Lamson.

The Steamship Authority had previously stated that inclement weather, strong winds, and choppy seas played complicating factors in the grounding of the vessel.

Kennedy Family Members Arrested at Hyannis Port Party

Matthew “Max” Kennedy 52, the ninth child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, was arrested and charged in August with disorderly conduct and violating the Town of Barnstable’s anti-noise ordinance.

One of Kennedy’s daughters, Caroline Rose Kennedy, 22, was also arrested on the same charges.

BPD Photo: Matthew “Max” Kennedy

Barnstable Police Sgt. Sean Sweeney said officers responded to 172 Irving Ave. after neighbors reported loud music coming from the home where a gathering was taking place.

On arrival, officers asked for the music to be turned down. When the request was refused, both were taken into custody. Sweeney said both were released on personal recognizance.

Max Kennedy eventually paid a fine and the charges were dropped. Caroline Kennedy will enter a diversion program and have her charges dropped if she completes the course.

Boat Capsizes in Buzzards Bay, 12 Tossed into Water

Twelve people were rescued from the water in late July after a sail boat overturned near Hog Island Channel.

The Coast Guard, Buzzard’s Bay Task Force, other government agencies, and Good Samaritans were being credited with rescuing the 12 people.

Petty Officer Nicole Groll said a good Samaritan called watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England reporting that the 18-foot sail boat overturned.

Witnesses reported that the boat appeared to be overloaded with passengers and it was struggling against the waves.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Cape and a 45-foot boat crew from Station Cape Cod Canal launched. When the 45-foot boat crew arrived on scene, a good Samaritan aboard the Disco Volante had recovered nine of the 12 people from the water.

The Coast Guard and local government agency crews recovered the other three people from the water. One child who was injured later died from his injuries.

Cement Mixer Truck Accident Shuts Down Route 6

A major crash on Route 6 in Wellfleet in early June shut down Route 6 for several hours after a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a cement mixer collided.

The cement truck rolled over trapping the driver.

The operator of the cement mixer truck was identified as 53-year-old Jeffrey Perry of Eastham. The second vehicle involved was a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee operated by a 17-year-old male from Wellfleet.

The third vehicle was a 2016 Toyota SUV operated by 68-year-old Kimber Billow of Fort Lauderdale, FL. The last vehicle involved was a 2006 BMW sedan operated by 74-year-old Bryan Quigley of Wellfleet.

The operator of the cement mixer truck sustained life threatening injuries and was flown by a MedFlight helicopter Boston. None of the other operators were injured in the accident.

Body of New Jersey Man Found in Saquatucket Harbor

Harwich Fire-Rescue responded to a body in the water in mid-May at Saquatucket Harbor on Route 28.

The Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office identified the man as Peter Benya, 59, of New Jersey.

A statement from the office said there was nothing to indicate the cause of death was anything other than accidental.

Bourne Firefighter Dies While Off-Duty

Bourne Firefighter Chad Cerulli

Bourne Fire Chief Norman Sylvester reported in early September that active duty Firefighter Chad Cerulli died suddenly while off duty at home.

Firefighter Cerulli, age 40, was a 6-year veteran of the Bourne Fire/Rescue & Emergency Services. He leaves a wife and two children.

On behalf of all the men and women of the department and the community of Bourne, Chief Sylvester extended his heartfelt condolences to the Cerulli family.



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