NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A fishing boat crashed into the shore of Atlantic City overnight, and the U.S. Coast Guard has launched an investigation into whether the captain was asleep at the wheel.
As Ileana Diaz of KYW-TV, Philadelphia reported Monday, the Coast Guard responded to the grounded vessel early Monday morning. The 56-foot Jessica Heather hit the shore shortly near The Pier Shops at Caesars, and was found around 2 a.m., the Coast Guard said.
“I came looking out; I was like, ‘Where is it going, the casino?’” a witness said.
The boat came pretty close to the casino, startling bystanders and capturing the attention of everyone around. The Jessica Heather was out at sea on a fishing trip, and the captain was headed back into Gardner’s Basin.
As the Press of Atlantic City reported, the Atlantic City Emergency Management Coordinator said a preliminary investigation led officials to believe the captain was asleep at the time of the incident.
The ship was on autopilot when she crashed into the sand just feet from Boardwalk Hall.
“Just missed the pier; that would have been devastating,” a witness said.
Fortunately, no one was hurt and nothing was hit. But the area has been catching the eye of just about everyone who walks by with a camera or an iPhone as the boat has been sitting there.
The Coast Guard said the boat isn’t posing an environmental threat, but they have put a safety perimeter around it until it can be refloated.
New Jersey State Police told KYW one man was taken into custody after a warrant check was run on the crew. George Southwell Jr., 33, was arrested on two outstanding warrants — one in Merchantville for shoplifting and the other in Cherry Hill for possession of a hypodermic syringe.
Officials were waiting for high tide at 6:52 p.m. to float the Jessica Heather off the beach.
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