An Ocean Rescue Story

       There was more then enough excitement on the beach Saturday, September 11. Two swimmers were pulled into deep water by the strong currents and were in the breaking waves before anyone realized they were in trouble. The first to respond to the calls for help was long time Ocean Beach resident Bonnie Browne. Most locals know Bonnie as Postmaster of Island Heights, and daughter of Edith Browne, maker of the finest hash browns ever served, at Browne's restaurant, now Mrs. Walker's Icecream. Bonnie happened to be kayaking near by and was there in a few seconds to provide the two swimmers with some moral support and the much needed floatation of the Kayak.

       It quickly became obvious that the older of the two swimmers was too tired to even hold onto the kayak much longer. Some obliging, but unfortunately nameless surfers arrived shortly after Bonnie. The weaker of the two swimmers was transfered to a surfboard. Deb Acker, recent transplant from Mississippi and ex lifeguard had been kayaking near by as well. Deb quickly returned to shore with the kayak, and swam out to assist the surfers, feeling more comfortable in the water then on the just recently purchased Ocean Kayak Frenzy. Bonnie was paddling towards shore with the remaining swimmer hanging on to the kayak. A task made more difficult by the rough surf conditions and the distance from shore everyone had been pulled by the current, even after the kayaks and surfboards arrived. Excitement was growing ashore as the group drifted farther from the beach.

       Enough time had transpired for the rescue squad to arrive at the beach, and an Ocean Rescure Jet Ski to arrive on the scene. Deb and the surfers were slowly fighting the current to move the other swimmer towards shore. He was too weak to even hold onto the surf board himself, and needed Debs assistance to keep from going under. The Jet Skier brought a life vest out, and Deb and he were able to get the swimmer into it to prevent him from going under should they loose their grip on him in the breaking waves, that had swamped the Jet Ski by that time, rendering it worse then useless as it became a floating hazard in the surf weighing a few hundred pounds. By this time another kayak had arrived on the scene and proceeded to tow the Jet Skier, holding the exhausted swimmer, to shallow water where they could be assisted by people on the beach.

    According to witnesses, one of the surfers assisting the swimmers lost his board to the currents that had pulled out the swimmers. While off his board and in the water, the board drifted away out of sight and was not recovered, most likely to become a prize for a boater or beach comber. The flooded Jet Ski survived as did the two swimmers. The elder of the two has survived bypass surgery as well as two strokes. He suffered only mild shock as a result of his ordeal, but was taken by the rescue squad for a thorough examination. Everyone had been in the water for close to an hour. Long enough for a Coast Guard boat dispatched from Point Pleasant to take up position close off shore. Not to worry, the beach takes care of it's own, whenever possible.


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