On Monday, September 19, 2022 at 7:10 PM Wading River Fire Department was activated by Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency (SCFRES) Dispatchers of a watercraft in distress a half mile off the beach at the Town of Brookhaven Town beach at Shoreham. Chief of Department Gluck and 2nd Assistant Chief Donnelly responded along with 7 Fire and rescue personnel and multiple pieces of apparatus including WRFD’s new UTV. Rocky Point Fire Department responded on automatic mutual aid with 2 Chiefs, multiple personnel and additional resources including their rescue boat and UTV. Suffolk County Police also responded with sector cars and a boat (Marine Delta)
The boat in distress was identified by friends, on shore, as an 8 foot inflatable raft with 2 adult males on board who did not have a cell phone but did have a flashlight and more importantly, both were wearing life jackets (PFD’s). The last sighting of the boat was about 630 PM as a storm front was going through the area waving the flashlight. The storm was tracked with 30 MPH winds. Due to poor cell phone signal and the location of the friends, on the bluff, they had issues contacting SCFRES/ Suffolk County Police 911 operators, as the cell phones were picking up signal from Connecticut, which delayed the initial response.
A Command Post was set up in the parking lot of the beach. RPFD’s boat responded to the last know position and immediately started a search pattern while the UTV’s started to search the coastline. The US Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound (USCG) was contacted, and current information was shared and well as WRFD Command being informed that the USCG had a 41 foot boat responding to the incident. Due to the clearing weather SCPD Aviation section became available and responded with helicopter 3 to assist in the search.
Approximately 40 minutes into the incident, WRFD Command was notified by SCFRES of a call from a location in east Wading River, near Wildwood state Park, that a homeowner who lives overlooking LI Sound could see a flashing light and could hear calls for “Help”. WRFD Command relayed the information to all of the units on scene and moved the immediate search area and resources to the east. Riverhead Fire Department was called to respond with their boat from the east into the search area.
At about 8:10 PM Suffolk County PD Helicopter 3, found the 2 victims floating in the water, wearing their life preservers, with no boat to be found. Their location was approximately 4.5 miles from their starting point.
SCPD Marine Delta and RPFD medical personnel verified that neither victim was in need of medical care and both were transported to Mt. Sinai harbor aboard marine Delta. Command was terminated and all personnel were released at 8:25. Total incident time was 1 Hour and 15 minutes.
The WRFD Chiefs would like to thank all of the mutual aid agencies and personnel as well as all of the partner agencies that worked well together at this event.