The Suffolk county Homicide Squad and East Hampton police are investigating the drowning death of a Manhattan contractor's wife during a boating excursion late Saturday night. John Petrocelli, 54, told authorities the boat was anchored about two miles off of Long Island’s eastern tip in Block Island Sound when his wife, Ninive Petrocelli, 39, fell into the water around midnight. He says he didn't see his wife fall off the stern, but tried to help when he heard her screams and splashing sounds in the darkness.

Sources tell the Post that Petrocelli says he "frantically threw about 10 life jackets in the direction of her screams and then radioed the Coast Guard on a marine frequency." His wife's body was found floating in the water some twelve hours later, about five miles south from where the boat had been anchored. She was not wearing a life jacket.

The boat, a 46 1/2-foot Carver Yachts vessel called "In The Clutch," is owned by Petrocelli's construction company. Neighbors say Petrocelli and his wife took the boat out frequently during the summer. They lived together on Central Park West, and Newsday reports that Ninive ran an architectural glass wholesale distribution company.

The Suffolk County Medical Examiners Office has not yet determined the cause of death.