HAMPTON — Ralph Nickerson chatted with Bruce Menezes last Wednesday outside the beach house where Menezes lived with his roommate, Mark Classen.
Nickerson, who rents out other properties next door, said Menezes and Classen were often found sitting out on the front porch of the place they rented at 11 River Ave.
“They were very sociable,” he said.
Nickerson didn’t think much of it when he didn’t see the two men around for a couple days after his chat with Menezes.
He said he was shocked when he learned that they were found dead in the Hampton River last Friday of an apparent drowning.
“I couldn’t believe it at first. You’re right next door to someone and then the next day they’re gone,” he said.
Autopsies performed Saturday concluded that both men died from drowning, but police have released few details about the circumstances surrounding the deaths.
According to Kevin Bailey, yard manager at the Hampton River Marina, Menezes, 53, and Classen, 57, went out last week with another friend on his boat to a floating dock moored in the river about 200 yards from the marina.
At some point on Thursday, Bailey said the friend with the boat took his dingy back to the marina and left Menezes and Classen out with the other boat at the dock. They were left out with the boat overnight, Bailey said, and Friday morning the friend returned to the dock and found them gone.
It’s not clear how they ended up in the water.
Friends and neighbors said they believe it was all just an accident, that maybe one of them fell into the river and the other jumped in to rescue him and both were swept away by the current.
The bodies were found floating in the river about a mile away from the dock in the area of the Hampton River Boat Club off of Landing Road late Friday morning.
Nickerson said Classen and Menezes lived together at the River Avenue residence for the last few months. He liked having them living next door because they kept an eye on his property.
“Bruce was a nice guy. He would do anything for you,” Nickerson said.
Bailey didn’t know Classen very well, but said Menezes has lived in the area for many years and at one point lived year-round on a boat at the marina.
“Bruce would give you the shirt off his back,” Bailey said.