The body of a Fairhaven man who likely jumped overboard from the New Bedford high-speed ferry to the Vineyard last month was found along a isolated stretch of beach on West Chop Saturday, police said.
The body of Walter Tyler, 28, was found around 7:45 a.m. near the West Chop pier along a north facing beach. Police said the body was partially decomposed, and was found wearing the same clothing Mr. Tyler was wearing when he boarded the fast ferry last month.
State police Sgt. Jeff Stone said the body was found by a woman walking her dog, who immediately contacted police.
Fairhaven police Chief Gary F. Souza told several media outlets this week that the body recovered was Mr. Tyler. The chief said the apparent cause of death was drowning; he ruled out the possibility that Mr. Tyler fell over the rail or was the victim of foul play.
Earlier this month, Chief Souza said Mr. Tyler left a note with his family prior to boarding the ferry.
The body was sent to the medical examiner’s office in Boston, where an autopsy was scheduled for Monday. Results of the autopsy were unavailable at press time yesterday.
Mr. Tyler reportedly boarded the passenger-only New England Fast Ferry on Sept. 24 but never arrived on the Island. Surveillance cameras showed him boarding the vessel in New Bedford, while cameras at the Vineyard Haven terminal did not show him getting off.
A team of investigators searched the water between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound for days after Mr. Tyler went missing but found nothing.
Police talked to a Pennsylvania man earlier this month who was sailing in Buzzards Bay the same day of Mr. Tyler’s disappearance who thought he saw a person slide over the starboard rail of the fast ferry into the water. The witness told his friends what he saw and they steered the boat toward the wake of the high-speed ferry.
They searched the area but found only a dark blue Fairhaven Father’s Day Road Race hat.
Mr. Tyler served in the U.S. Navy for four years after graduating from high school and later joined the Merchant Marines where he worked on tugboats.