21-year-old Army veteran dies in party cruise fall reportedly caused by 'horseplay'

Friends and family members are mourning the death of 21-year-old Army veteran Aaron J. Dibella. As local ABC news affiliate WCVB5 reports, Dibella, of Peabody, Mass., died Saturday night after falling overboard during a luau-themed Boston Harbor party cruise.

According to a statement by Bay State Cruise Company, which operates the 194-foot-long Provincetown II, the vessel involved in the incident, Dibella’s fall was caused by “engaging in horseplay aboard the vessel.”

The company said that Dibella was warned by a boat crew member to climb down from a bulwark after he performed some sort of “vertical push-up.” Dibella, it says, only temporarily heeded the warning.

“Although the passenger initially appropriately responded to the warning of the crew member and climbed back down onto the deck, when the crew member turned to go back into the interior of the vessel, the passenger started in on the even more dramatic form of dangerous play,” the company claims.

Dibella reportedly fell into the water near Peddocks Island around 8:30 p.m.

“We had him located and illuminated with the ship’s spotlight; the several life rings were within just a few feet of him, and a crew member was additionally in the water,also within five feet of him to assist,” Bay State Cruise Company owner Michael Glasfeld told the media.

Unfortunately, state police divers were not able to retrieve his body until several hours later, around 1 a.m.

“The ache we feel for his loved ones, for the gentleman himself, is beyond description,” Glasfeld said about Dibella’s death. “We are all unable to communicate the depth of the sorrow we feel over the incident.”


An unidentified friend of the victim’s criticized party cruise staff in an interview with the Boston Globe but acknowledged that Dibella had decided to “joke around” while on board the boat. The friend said the accident was an “honest mistake.”

“If there ever was a kind heart, it was his,” Dibella’s mother, Suzanne Dibella, added in a text message to the Globe. “He made friends so easily. He cared for others so deeply; he lived a good life, and he blessed many with his goodness.”

The Associated Press reports that the state’s chief medical examiner will determine the cause and manner of Dibella’s death.

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