Three women found dead in a submerged car at a Rhode Island shipyard were friends who worked on some of the world's finest yachts, according to a business owner in the luxury boat industry.
The car was found at about 6:30 a.m. Friday sticking out of about 4 feet of water in Newport Harbor at the privately owned Newport Shipyard. Police believe that the driver missed a turn in foggy conditions, and that the car had been in the water for at least several hours before it was discovered.
Authorities identified the women as Jennifer Way of North Kingstown, R.I.; Louise Owen of Wales in the United Kingdom and Femmetje Staring of the Netherlands. All were 39 years old.
Peter Wilson, co-founder and co-owner of Newport-based MCM, which represents yacht owners, said the three women became close friends while working in the yachting industry.
Way was a yacht manager at MCM, while Owen had been working on the luxury super-yacht Hyperion and Staring had been working on another yacht, he told The Providence Journal.
"The global yachting community is small, and news such as this travels fast," Wilson wrote in an email Saturday night to the newspaper.
"As a result, emails and messages of condolence have been flooding in from every corner of the world. All three women were highly respected in their fields and enormously well-liked. We will miss them all terribly."
Wilson said Way had celebrated her 10th anniversary working at MCM this year. He added that Staring and Owen "were also astonishing, bright, delightful women."
"Losing any one of these remarkable women would be sad enough, but to lose all three as a result of this one heartbreaking accident causes devastation of immense proportions," he said in the email. Wilson said the car that went into the water belonged to Way.
Police haven't disclosed who was driving the car and it's not clear why the women were at the shipyard, which is open 24 hours and has a security guard posted at the entrance at all times.
Authorities said there was no evidence of foul play and the investigation is continuing. A spokeswoman for the shipyard referred all questions to police.