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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Search on Narragansett Bay continues today for missing university students

Media Contact: URI Communications, 401-874-2116

NARRAGANSETT, RI. -- March 17, 2006, 1:25 p.m. -- The search for three missing University of Rhode Island students enters its fifth day today.

Chief Steve Hall of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's Enforcement Division said today that his agency, the Narragansett police and North Kingstown Fire Department have boats patrolling Narragansett Bay. A helicopter provided by the Rhode Island Airport Corp. will be conducting aerial searches this afternoon.

"We are evaluating what the search effort will be in the days to come and are discussing that with the families," Hall said.

The students, Geoffrey M. Wilkes, 18, and Daniel P. Donahue, 20, both of Glocester, and Fandia M. Shloul, 21, of Pawtucket, were last seen early Monday morning getting into a rowboat on Narragansett Bay from the Bonnet Shores neighborhood.

"The activity today will primarily involve small boat patrols, although we will be getting help from the airport corporation chopper," Hall said. "Local police departments continue to check area beaches and accessible sections of coastline. Plus, we are seeing a lot civilians walking the coastlines and looking around.

"Things like this bring people together and they want to help out. Everyone who is a parent must look at this and see how difficult it is for the families."

On Thursday, patrol boats from DEM, State and Narragansett police and the North Kingstown Fire Department were on the bay. In addition, the Providence Police Dive team conducted several underwater searches.

"We have been talking with the families, and they are very appreciative of what we are doing," Hall said. "We are doing everything we can. I have been talking with our crews and the other chiefs, and even in high winds we just can't get them off the water."

More than 175 individuals from all of the cooperating agencies, including the Coast Guard, have been participating in the largest marine search effort in Rhode Island waters in the last 15 years, Hall said Tuesday.

More information about the search and gatherings planned.