OCEAN CITY — Four people were pulled from the ocean by a Good Samaritan last Friday afternoon after their vessel exploded, caught fire and sank about 15 miles off the coast.
Around 12:40 p.m. last Friday, Coast Guard Station Ocean City received a call about a boat of unknown model or size exploding about 15 miles off the coast near a popular fishing area known as the Jackspot. The Coast Guard was notified of a spot beacon distress signal coming from the area and mobilized a rescue boat and helicopter.
Minutes later, a Good Samaritan boat near the incident reported to the Coast Guard it had just rescued the boat’s four occupants from the water. The Liquid Therapy had arrived on the scene and pulled the four victims onboard through the vessel’s tuna door.
Two of the four victims, including the vessel’s captain, had suffered burn injuries and arrangements were made for the Good Samaritan vessel to return the victims to Sunset Marina in West Ocean City where emergency services would be waiting. The captain, who had suffered the most severe burn injuries, reportedly refused medical treatment at the marina.
The Liquid Therapy was the first to arrive on the scene, but other vessels in the area saw the smoke and heard the distress call and also responded. Another boat was fishing in the area when the occupants saw the plume of black smoke miles away.
“We had just put the last flattie in the boat to complete our limit when I spotted the smoke on the horizon,” he said. “We could tell it just started, so we called the Coast Guard, threw up the side curtains and took off toward the incident.”
The fisherman, who wished to remain anonymous, said with five-foot swells and windy conditions, the vessel could only reach a speed of around 15 knots, making the trek to the burning vessel a challenging one.
“In the end, to took us about 45 minutes to reach the burning vessel,” he said. “We monitored VHF as we ran and were able to find out, thankfully, the vessel Liquid Therapy had plucked four folks from the water and that emergency services would be meeting them when they hit the docks.”
Despite knowing another Good Samaritan vessel had rescued the boat’s four occupants, the fisherman said his vessel pressed on because they had already come so far.
“When we got to the site of the accident it was very somber,” he said. “Nothing was left but the burning hull and the ocean swells. It was the most eerie situation the captain and I had ever seen. Although we fished a little more that day, we didn’t say a whole lot. It had affected both of us.”
The responding angler said despite the happy ending, the incident reconfirmed the importance of the buddy system out on the ocean and the need to look out for fellow boaters and fishermen.
“It really impressed on me the importance of doing all you can to help a vessel in distress,” he said. “You might be their only hope for survival. Thank God there were other vessels around that day to help. Twenty miles offshore is a long way when you have an emergency.”