OCEAN CITY – The Coast Guard had a busy couple of days in the resort area last week, responding to four incidents in a three-day stretch, including a search and rescue mission for a naked man who eluded Ocean City police on the Boardwalk before jumping off the pier and swimming in the direction of Assateague.
Coast Guard Station Ocean City responded to several incidents in and around the resort area last week including three on the same day last Wednesday. The local Coast Guard station was back in action again two days later when it rescued five members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol caught in a rip current about 75 yards offshore near the Inlet. The following are some of the highlights, or lowlights, of the Coast Guard’s busy week in the waters off the coast of the resort:
Search And Rescue Mission For Naked Man
The action for the Coast Guard began early last Thursday morning when it assisted the Ocean City Police Department with a search for a naked man with swim fins that began on the Boardwalk and the Pier and ended on Assateague Island.
Shortly before midnight last Wednesday, an OCPD officer on routine patrol on the south end of the Boardwalk observed a completely naked man carrying swim fins running south on the Boardwalk from the area of Wicomico Street before turning east onto the pier and the Jolly Roger amusement park. Several officers and Jolly Roger’s security personnel chased the naked man through the park, but were unable to capture him.
According to police reports, there were at least 30-50 people who witnessed the naked man running through the amusement park including roughly a dozen children. Police continued to pursue the suspect to the fishing pier, but when he got to the end, he jumped over the rail and into the ocean below. The suspect then swam about 200 yards due east offshore before turning south toward the Inlet and Assateague.
OCPD officers notified the Coast Guard about the suspect and a 21-foot crew boat was launched to respond to the scene. At one point, the Coast Guard boat caught up to the naked swimmer and ordered him to get out of the water and onto their boat, but he refused and continued to swim toward Assateague. The Coast Guard boat tailed the swimmer and spotted him on the beach at Assateague before he disappeared into some thick brush.
In the meantime, three OCPD officers went to the Coast Guard station on the bayside and were given a ride by boat over to Assateague. As they arrived, the OCPD officers entered the brush along the shore to search for the suspect. A Coast Guard helicopter responded to the area and joined the search for the suspect using a spotlight.
At one point, the Coast Guard helicopter crew thought they spotted the suspect and dropped a glow stick in the area to lead the officers on the ground to the location. However, when the officers reached the glow stick, they found no trace of the naked swimmer. The Coast Guard helicopter had to cut its search effort short after about 15 minutes because of fuel issues. The OCPD requested the assistance of the Maryland State Police helicopter, but the request was declined, according to police reports.
Shortly thereafter, an OCPD K-9 officer and his dog arrived on the beach at Assateague by boat and joined the search for the man. The K-9 dog alerted on several areas, but the suspect was not found. Throughout the search, OCPD officers attempted to contact the suspect using a loud speaker, urging him to come out and turn himself in.
After an extensive search of the thick brush, the OCPD officers went back out to the point on the beach where it was believed the suspect had come ashore and started to follow his footprints. The footprints led back into the brush. OCPD officers then left Assateague by boat and returned to Ocean City. Assateague State Park rangers continued the search when the OCPD officers left, but the suspect was never found.
OCPD spokesperson Jessica King said this week what started as a disorderly conduct or indecent exposure case on the Boardwalk turned into a multi-agency search and rescue mission first in the ocean and later on Assateague.
“Once he jumped off the pier and began swimming, our officers were less concerned with the criminal aspects of the case as they were his safety,” she said. “What started out as a fairly routine indecent exposure case turned into this big search involving our officers and the Coast Guard.”
Search For Missing Surfer, Responds To Flare
Earlier last Wednesday evening, the Coast Guard responded to two separate incidents in the ocean off the coast of the resort that resulted in similar outcomes.
First, around 8:50 p.m. on Aug. 6 the Coast Guard was notified of a surfer reportedly caught in the rip current about 200 yards off the coast of the resort. The Coast Guard launched a 25-foot crew boat from Station Ocean City and an HH-65 Coast Guard helicopter responded from Air Station Atlantic City along with the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) and the Maryland State Police.
After an extensive search for the surfer reportedly caught in the rip current, no one was found no missing persons have been reported. Later that evening, the Coast Guard was called into action again, this time for the sighting of a distress flare off the coast of Ocean City reported by a witness on 66th Street. A Coast Guard 47-foot motor lifeboat and a helicopter crew from Air Station Atlantic City responded to the area where the flare was reported, but no one or no vessel in distress was ever located.
Beach Patrol Members Pulled From Ocean
Two days later, the Coast Guard responded again, this time rescuing five members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol caught in a rip current near the Inlet.
Around 1:30 p.m., the Coast Guard received a call about five members of the beach patrol who were conducting paddle board training when they got caught in a rip current about 75 yards offshore near the Inlet. A rescue boat was launched from Coast Guard Station Ocean City, along with fire and rescue crews from Ocean City and other local lifeguards and arrived on the scene minutes later at about 1:37 p.m.
The Coast Guard rescue boat was able to pull the five Beach Patrol members aboard their boat to safety and no injuries were reported.
“They are all in good condition,” said OCBP Crew Chief Sgt. Jeff Brabitz. “They were just out past the rocks and got caught in the current. It was a pretty quick recovery from the people involved.”
Coast Guard officials said after their busy 72-hour period, the incidents that started with the search for the surfer and the response to the flare offshore on Wednesday, continued with the search for the naked swimmer late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning and culminated with the rescue of five OCBP members on Friday represented the cooperation of the participating agencies.
“Last night was an excellent example of inter-agency cooperation between federal, state and local agencies,” said Chief Petty Officer Gene Daigle of Station Ocean City. “If local law enforcement ever needs any assistance, they don’t hesitate to ask us, and when we need assistance, we don’t hesitate to ask them.”