A night of fishing went horribly awry for five people fishing in a paddle boat off a beach in Wading River when a wave overturned their vessel and they were thrown into dark waters of the Long Island Sound.
Riverhead Town police and others, including local residents, galvanized to perform a heroic water rescue; one of those rescued was a seven-year-old child.
The stranded boaters were not visible from shore, police said. Only their desperate cries for help could be heard in the night.
Riverhead Town Police said that at approximately 9:22 p.m. on Sunday, they received numerous calls from residents reporting that individuals could be heard screaming for help from the Long Island Sound, just east of a Riverhead Town beach in Wading River, off Creek Road.
Approximately a quarter mile offshore, rescuers heard frantic cries for help and found Jovany Fernandez, 25, of Patchogue, and Victor Saquicaray, 28, also of Patchogue, pulling them out of the water and safely into the search vessel. Both men were wearing life jackets.
After being told that three others were still in the water, the search continued until all were located approximately one half mile offshore. Also rescued were Erica Perez, 20, of Patchogue, Diana Beez, 23, of Bellport, and Beez's seven-year-old son, who was the only one of the trio wearing a life jacket. The three were located sitting on the underside of an approximately seven to eight foot paddleboat, which was submerged below the water.
Rescuers included Riverhead Town police, including members of the dive rescue team, the Suffolk County Marine Bureau, Suffolk County Aviation, the Wading River Fire Department, and other area fire departments that responded to the scene.
Police said local resident John Sackowitz also stepped up to help, kayaking out to his private boat, which was moored offshore, and bringing the vessel back to pick up Wading River resident Tom Morris, Queens resident Mike Rabino, and Riverhead Town police officer Patrick Lennon, who boarded the boat and began searching.
After being brought back to shore, all five individuals were examined by Wading River EMTs and found to have no injuries and be in good physical condition. No arrests were made and no charges were filed. The paddleboat was towed back to shore.