By Matt Rivers
CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) — A rescue was made more than 40 miles off the coast of Cape May, New Jersey.
The Coast Guard team that pulled a man to safety is speaking about the rescue.
That man had gone overboard and was treading water for four hours.
But it isn’t just the Coast Guard that deserves credit.
As Eyewitness News reporter Matt Rivers reports, another vessel helped in the rescue.
Hovering over a pitch black ocean, the rescue line is lowered to the boat below. One of the men aboard had just gotten pulled back on board from the ocean. He’d been treading water for four hours after falling off the fishing vessel. Searching for him difficult, to say the least.
“It’s a needle in a haystack. It truly is,” said Lt. Tammy Whalen.
Lt. Tammy Whalen was piloting the helicopter looking for the man. After looking for a while, she got a call that another ship had found him, thrown a life preserver and somehow, he’d made it back on board his boat. Still, he likely had hypothermia. So the team sent Petty Officer Christopher Lynch, a rescue swimmer, down to go see him.
“He started shivering a lot more and was kind of in the fetal position so I knew we needed to get him out of there,” said Petty Officer Christopher Lynch.
And that was the tricky part.
“There had been a thunderstorm that had blown through the area and we had six to eight foot seas, so the seas were kicked up,” said Lt. Whalen.
Typically rescues are made using a basket, lowing first for the victim, then back up and down a second time for the rescue swimmer. Only in this case, the helicopter was running out of fuel. So instead, crews were forced into a more dangerous maneuver, using a sling, both men were attached to it and hoisted up out of sea just in time.
“He was kind of out of it, but he definitely made the comment, he said ‘I hope you have blankets up there,'” said Petty Officer Lynch.
They did and the man will be fine, a happy ending in a tight spot.
“You can’t ask for a better outcome,” said Lt. Whalen.
(Reporter:) “A good day’s work?”
“Fantastic,” said the lieutenant.