Man who died on Peddocks Island in Boston Harbor fell down elevator shaft, according to initial investigation

A 35-year-old man died on Peddocks Island in Boston Harbor Friday night when he fell down an elevator shaft after spending much of the day with a group, including a Department of Conservation and Recreation employee, who had been consuming alcoholic beverages, a spokeswoman for the Plymouth district attorney said.

William E. Bryan III, 35, of Whitman, was on the island with a small group led by the DCR employee, said the spokeswoman, Bridget Norton Middleton.

The employee had invited Bryan along, she said.

Middleton said an initial investigation suggests that the group began touring the island’s historic quartermaster’s building at about 8:30 p.m.


Bryan was with the group when he jumped from the third floor onto an elevator platform on the second floor, Middleton said. From there, he jumped again and fell down the elevator shaft, landing in the basement.

The group had started touring the island at 1 p.m., stopping at one point to eat and consume alcoholic beverages, Middleton said.

DCR spokeswoman S.J. Port said alcohol is not allowed on state property.

Peddocks Island is closed for the off-season, she said, and all unused buildings are boarded up, but a caretaker employed by DCR lives there full time during those months.

He has been placed on unpaid administrative leave and removed from his lodgings on the island.

The department is conducting an internal investigation to determine what happened on the island Friday night, Port said.

Port said she could not name the caretaker or discuss the details of the incident because the matter is under investigation.

“The caretakers are to protect the investment we’ve made in the island and to ward off any vandals — and we do have a history of vandalism on Peddocks Island,’’ she said.

The island was home to Fort Andrews in the early 20th century. The caretaker lives in an apartment above the visitor’s center, a renovated old guardhouse, Port said.


She said DCR staff will monitor the island, checking the site multiple times a day in the caretaker’s absence.

Bryan was pronounced dead on the island by paramedics who responded around 9:30 p.m., according to Steve MacDonald, a Boston Fire Department spokesman.

His injuries were consistent with a fall, Middleton said.

Bryan’s family could not be reached for comment.

Though the Department of Conservation and Recreation has jurisdiction over Peddocks Island, the Plymouth County District Attorney took over the death investigation because the island is in Hull.