OCEAN CITY – A local man was rescued from the chilly, storm-tossed seas in the Assawoman Bay last Sunday after his paddle boat turned over in the area of 118th Street.
Around 6:20 p.m. last Sunday, Coast Guard Station Ocean City received a call from a cell phone from an individual who believed his paddle boat was about to turn over. According to the Coast Guard, the man, later identified as Roland Puller, 43, of Berlin, said he was in the middle of Assawoman Bay off 118th Street and that his cell phone battery was running out.
The Coast Guard immediately dispatched its 21-foot utility boat to the area and began to search for the boater. Follow-up calls to the boater’s cell phone were not answered, presumably because his battery had run out. The Coast Guard arrived at the boater’s last known location in the bay off 118th Street but was unable to locate the victim or his vessel.
Both the Ocean City and Ocean Pines police also dispatched personnel to the area to assist with the search. With water temperatures in the 40s, the winds gusting to 30 knots, and the missing boater not answering his cell phone, Coast Guard officials grew concerned and knew they would have to act quickly.
About an hour later, at 7:25 p.m., the victim was reportedly sighted approximately 25 blocks north of the original call. He was clinging to the top of an overturned blue-and-white paddleboat. Although conscious, alert and breathing, the victim appeared to be suffering from hypothermia, according to a press release.
The Coast Guard took the distressed Puller aboard its utility boat and transported him to the nearest dock where Ocean City Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) were waiting. Ocean City EMTs transported the victim to the hospital, but his treatment and the extent of his injuries were not included in the Coast Guard release.
In the meantime, the Coast Guard took the occasion to remind all boaters of the importance of safe boating practices. For example, boaters are advised to always wear a life jacket, file a float plan before departing and only boat when water and weather conditions are conducive to a safe outing.