Good Samaritan saves three in L.I. Sound near Wading River

A rescue by a Good Samaritan in the Long Island Sound near Wading River Saturday night led to confusion when the empty boat was recovered by emergency personnel who had no knowledge of the save Sunday morning, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound.

While transiting the area by boat, the Good Samaritan discovered three people in life jackets in the water, brought them aboard and returned them safely back to shore, the Coast Guard said. 

They were reported to have been swimming for nearly an hour after their 14-foot aluminum skiff capsized.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, unaware of the rescue the night before, received notification of the boat adrift six miles north of Wading River Sunday morning. Rescue crews from Coast Guard Station in New Haven, the Wading River Fire Department, the Suffolk County Marine Bureau, and the Suffolk County Sherriff’s Department launched in an effort to recover the boat and fid its passengers, the Coast Guard said.

Once on scene with the skiff, the Coast Guard crew discovered a cell phone in a plastic bag, two full plastic water bottles, an electric trolling motor and about 30 to 40 gallons of seawater aboard. Aided by the cell phone, the Coast Guard identified the owner of the vessel and confirmed they were home safe.  Later, the owner of the vessel contacted the Coast Guard explaining once the boat capsized, the crew decided to swim for shore, the Coast Guard said.

“This is a perfect example of how wearing life jackets saves lives,” Cmdr. Jonathan Theel, a search and rescue mission coordinator at Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, said in a statement.  “They found themselves in a bad situation when their boat capsized, and since they chose to swim to shore, their life jackets kept them afloat – especially when they became tired and needed to rest.”

Cmdr. Theel also emphasized the critical role of Good Samaritans in the rescue.

“Had it not been for the first Good Samaritan, they might have been in the water for several more hours,” he said.

He said the witness who located the troubled vessel did the right thing by immediately contacting the Coast Guard and providing the command center with an accurate description and location of the vessel.

“This is a situation that might’ve ended much worse, had it not been for the vigilance of our local boating community,” Cmdr. Theel said.