GLOUCESTER — Evelyn Howe spent the morning Sunday at a gathering with friends in her Rocky Neck neighborhood.
She had brought a key lime cheesecake, the tasty treat she had crafted various variations of for different celebrations and get-togethers, along with pomegranate juice and champagne. She gushed to pals about her excitement for a pair of Rhode Island friends to visit her that afternoon in the harbor she loved.
“She was just so thrilled that these friends were coming to visit,” close friend E.J. Lefavour said of the 46-year-old woman, who had been living on Cape Ann for about a year. “She was going off with her friends to show them this special place that someone else had showed her. That’s the one thing I can just be grateful for — she was just having a wonderful day and she was just so thrilled.”
The day’s adventures, which were set to end with a Cinco de Mayo celebration, instead took an abrupt and tragic turn. Howe’s Rhode Island friend, David Machado, 49, slipped from a rock in front of the Gonzaga Retreat House on Eastern Point, and Howe slid in after him.
Howe and Machado were identified early yesterday as the pair who died in the waters off Eastern Point early Sunday evening. Pulled from the waters by Gloucester police, and transported with CPR and other lifesaving equipment on board the city’s police boat to Coast Guard Station Gloucester, the two were then taken to Addison Gilbert Hospital, but were pronounced dead there Sunday just before 8 p.m.
According to witnesses, Machado’s and Howe’s fall into the water left Machado’s wife on shore screaming, flailing and running for help.
Machado’s wife found a man with a cellphone, and he called police, with officers boarding Gloucester’s patrol boat and responding almost immediately along with a Coast Guard vessel. Howe and Machado struggled in the 50-degree water, then fell unconscious. Police found their bodies about 40 minutes after the initial 911 call.