OCEAN CITY — In one of the earliest ocean rescues in the resort in recent memory, two body-boarders in distress were pulled from the water on Sunday afternoon with the assistance of a Good Samaritan surfer and three Ocean City Fire Department rescue swimmers.
Around 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, May 8, Ocean City Fire Department rescue swimmers were dispatched to the area of 16th Street for a report of two swimmers in distress. Two inexperienced body boarders, neither of whom were wearing wetsuits, became distressed and began to be swept into an apparent rip current.
The body-boarders abandoned their boards and began attempting to swim to shore to no avail. A surfer nearby paddled over to the distressed swimmers, who were able to hang on the surf board temporarily.
Three OCFD rescue swimmers, including Ocean City Councilman Matt James, Mick Chester and Ben Waples arrived minutes later and affected a rescue of the swimmers. James was the first to arrive and enter the water. Chester and Waples arrived a short time later.
The three OCFD rescue swimmers reached the distressed body-boarders, who were around 150 yards offshore. With the help of the Good Samaritan surfer, the rescue swimmers were able to get the victims safely to shore. The victims were evaluated on scene by paramedics, but were not transported. Despite being shaken up and obviously cold, the victims were none the worse for wear.
It was one of the earliest ocean rescues in recent memory and came at a time when the air temperature, and more importantly, the water temperature, would suggest it was too early to be in the ocean, except for experienced swimmers and surfers wearing appropriate wetsuits and safety equipment. According to the Ocean City Beach Patrol site, the water temperature on Monday is still 53 degrees.
The two victims were not wearing wetsuits or any protection from the chilly water. In addition, Waples had time to pull on a wetsuit, but James and Chester entered the water in just board shorts.
The incident serves as a reminder for visitors and residents to “keep their feet in the sand until the lifeguards are in the stand. While the Ocean City Beach Patrol continues to monitor the beach with a skeleton crew on ATVs, the OCBP does not start manning lifeguard stands up and down the beach until the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.