New York’s Rockaway Beach had fishermen struggling in rough water. Coast guards took over but their boat overturned owing to high water wave levels. Fortunately, they swam back safely and the rescue operation was then done by air.
The ordeal lasted for over 5 hours.
The Coast Guard crew had ventured out to save fishermen stuck in a boat rocking in rough waters just off New York’s Rockaway Beach early Thursday.
Until they ended up in that water themselves.
Thankfully, the five would-be rescuers didn’t need rescuing, but swam safely to shore, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi told CNN’s “New Day.”
The ordeal began around 2 a.m., when the Coast Guard got an urgent call that a 76-foot fishing boat with five to seven men aboard was taking on water, according to Flockerzi.
The five Coast Guard members then sprang into action, only to be thwarted when their boat capsized in 10- to 12-foot waves.
While the guardsmen swam to shore, the Carolina Queen III, which they’d gone to help, remained stuck when the sun rose over Rockaway Beach, part of the borough of Queens in the far southeastern part of New York.
Firefighters lined up along the beach as the boat swayed back and forth in strong waves. Even though they were just a few feet from land, they could not get off easily.
Shortly before 7 a.m., the Coast Guard managed to save them not by sea, but by air.
Rescuers were lowered from a helicopter onto the Carolina Queen III. From there, they plucked up those on the fishing boat, lifted them airborne in a basket, and brought them back to shore.
The rescued men later could be seen on video, captured by CNN affiliate WABC, wrapped in long towels or blankets, then walking on the beach away from their boat.
At the time, skies over Far Rockaway appeared largely clear, though conditions were chilly with sustained winds around 20 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
A U.S. Coast Guard boat capsized in rough water while it was rescuing a fishing vessel that called for help in Far Rockaway Thursday morning.
The U.S. Coast Guard responded to a distress call about 4:30 a.m. from the fishing vessel Carolina Queen III, officials said. There were seven people on board and the vessel ran aground. While standing by to assist the vessel, the coast guard boat overturned, according to the NYPD.
The five crew members on board the 25-foot rescue boat swam to shore, police said. No serious injuries were reported. The crew was wearing protective gear. It’s not clear how far they swam.
All seven people aboard the fishing vessel have been rescued, pulled onto a Coast Guard helicopter via ropes.
The harrowing incident happened in the wake of a major storm that swept through the area, bringing heavy rain, dangerous wind gusts and flooding in some areas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.