Fast ferry passenger missing
Police look for New Bedford man after passage to Island
Mainland and Tisbury police are investigating the disappearance of a man they believe boarded a fast ferry from New Bedford but did not arrive on Martha's Vineyard. Police have indicated there is some reason to think the man may have been lost overboard.
Fairhaven Police issued a press release asking for the assistance of residents who live along the Buzzards Bay and Vineyard shores for help in locating Walter P. Tyler, a 28-year-old man from Fairhaven, reported missing since Monday by his family.
Members of Mr. Tyler's family traveled to the Island and put black and white posters up on Tuesday. A poster pinned to a telephone pole at Five Corners read, "Missing Person" and included two photos of Mr. Tyler, his description, and a list of police and family members' phone numbers.
Walter Tyler. Photo courtesy FairHaven police
According to a press release from Fairhaven Police Chief Gary Souza yesterday, "Walter Tyler, 27, is believed to have gone missing from the New England Fast Ferry on its 1:30 pm, Monday trip from New Bedford to Martha's Vineyard. Surveillance cameras show him boarding the vessel in New Bedford but cameras in Martha's Vineyard do not show him disembarking. The film shows 26 passengers getting onboard but only 25 getting off. His bicycle was found abandoned on State Pier in New Bedford."
Although Chief Souza said "no comment" when asked about the discovery of a note, the press release provides one indication that police think he may have gone overboard. Chief Souza's press release stated that Mr. Tyler, a Navy veteran, is a very strong swimmer who has been trained in cold-water survival.
"It is entirely possible that he could have made it to shore, given the relatively warm water in the bay at this time of year," the chief wrote.
Mr. Tyler, who is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs 220 pounds, was last seen wearing a light blue, long-sleeve plaid shirt, with gray pants, sandals, and a dark blue Navy ball cap with the words "USS Stump" on the front, according to the press release.
Tisbury Police Chief John Cashin said that the Tyler family contacted him Tuesday from Fairhaven and asked him to check whether Mr. Tyler had arrived on the 1 pm ferry the day before. Chief Cashin said that although there were indications Mr. Tyler got on the ferry, he was not among the arriving passengers.
Chief Cashin said he and other Tisbury police officers started looking for Mr. Tyler immediately on Tuesday, and a general broadcast went out to police officers Island-wide to be on the lookout for him.
Asked why he did not notify the newspapers or alert the public, Chief Cashin said, "We're too busy sometimes to put out a press release, plus there was good supporting evidence that the individual is not even on the Island."
The Times was alerted to the search by one of the family's posters.
New England Fast Ferry manager Michael Glaffeld told The Times in a phone call late Wednesday afternoon that he had reviewed the surveillance film and that it was difficult to confirm the passenger numbers, because the camera pans and does not stay pointed at the boarding area long enough to confirm the boarding of every passenger. However, Mr. Glaffeld said he and Mr. Tyler's family are fairly certain he did get on the boat and is missing.
"Police do not know at what point he went missing from the vessel, so they are asking for anyone who may have seen him in Buzzards Bay or Martha's Vineyard coastal communities or saw him on that ferry trip to call the Fairhaven Police Detective Division at 508-997-7421," Chief Souza's press release states.
Reached at the Fairhaven Police Department on Wednesday morning, Carolyn Tyler, Walter's mother, said she and her family would be grateful for any help people can give by walking along the shoreline and looking for any sign of her son. In addition to Walter, she and her husband, Walter M., have four daughters and four other sons.
Chief Souza said the case is under investigation by New Bedford and Fairhaven detectives, as well as the New Bedford Police Department Port Security Unit. Other contact numbers for police and the Tyler family include 508-838-1112, 508-951-8482, and 508-965-3467.