Riverhead lifeguards save three after boat capsizes at Reeves Beach

Lifeguards Michelle Behr, left, and Nicole soon after the rescue. A U.S. Coast Guard boat, far eft, and the victims' capsized boat can be seen still in the background. (Credit: Sara Schabe)
Lifeguards Michelle Behr, left, and Nicole Visintin soon after the rescue. A U.S. Coast Guard boat, far left, and the victims’ capsized boat can be seen still in the background. (Credit: Sara Schabe)

Two Riverhead lifeguards helped rescue three victims after their collapsible aluminum boat capsized off Reeves Beach in the Long Island Sound at about 1 p.m. Tuesday. 

Nicole Visintin and Michelle Behr, both of Riverhead, said they noticed the group of three people on a motorboat before losing sight of the dinghy. They then noticed the victims’ lifejackets as they floated in the water.

Nicole, 17, said it was only her second day training.

“It was a little overwhelming at first,” she said, but credited Ms. Behr, 20, with helping to control the situation.

The capsized boat. (Credit: Sara Schabe)
The capsized dinghy. (Credit: Sara Schabe)

Karen Kurpetski said she and her husband were among a small group of Riverhead residents who witnessed the situation as it unfolded. She recalled watching the two lifeguards swim out to rescue the victims, who were boating outside of the purview of the lifeguards.

“It was amazing what the two girls did,” she said. “They went above and beyond. When they saw the people in danger they just took off.”

The boaters were Jennifer Cabot, Jose Betances and Agustin Galan of Brooklyn. Ms. Cabot said they visit Riverhead every summer to fish and this is the first time they ever had an issue. She said they were out on the boat for about an hour before it capsized and were floating in the water for about 20 minutes before they were rescued.

The victims (Credit: Sara Schabe)
Boaters (from left) Jennifer Cabot, Jose Betances and Agustin Galan after their rescue. (Credit: Sara Schabe)

She said they were fortunate to be wearing lifejackets because the waves were rough and it was hard to swim.

“I appreciate what the [lifeguards] did,” she said.  “We are really glad and thank God they got us here safe.”

Ms. Behr has been working as a lifeguard at Reeves Beach for about five years and she said this was her first rescue. She said she felt well prepared for it and remained calm throughout.

“I just wanted to get to them,” she said, adding that she was glad the victims had lifejackets on because it helped her bring them in. “I just wanted to … help them out.”

[email protected]