MANASQUAN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two people are dead and five others are recovering after a pontoon boat capsized off the coast of New Jersey Friday afternoon, New Jersey State Police said.
The Coast Guard said the boat capsized in Manasquan Inlet, sending multiple people into the water, CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported.
A Coast Guard official told WCBS 880 that a call came in reporting the capsized boat around 1:40 p.m.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, dozens of fishermen, surfers and residents on the shore at Point Pleasant Beach had watched over the boat and its occupants since tall waves swamped it.
“One wave came up behind it almost tipped it, and as soon as it hit, it kind of sat there, and the next wave came up behind it and tipped it the rest of the way. And it looked like there were seven people in the water,” Dan Gallagher of Bridgewater told the Asbury Park Press.
Two people were rescued by good Samaritans, four people were rescued by a Coast Guard boat, and one person was hoisted into the air by a NYPD helicopter, officials said.
Photos of the rescue show a Coast Guard boat and several helicopters hovering over the area not far from shore.
“The helicopter lowered the basket and a couple of divers to look underneath. A little later, a basket went down – somebody or something was pulled up. A couple of people since then – they’ve said one or two; I think the word they used was victims – were taken to the hospital,” said witness Allan Cleary.
Some onlookers even tried to help.
“Luckily, there were a lot of boats around that were able to help people out, and a lot of the surfers were out there too picking people up, and then eventually, the helicopters came and I think they might have gotten the last couple of people,” Gallagher said.
New Jersey State Police said two people were pronounced dead following the rescue.
The men who died were identified as Alex Osadchy, 66, and Grigory Klokishner, 74, both of Philadelphia.
State police said four other victims were taken to Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township with non-life threatening injuries and one victim refused medical treatment.
It all left many people numb.
“And I say to myself and to other people also, why the heck does the pontoon boat go in the ocean? Because I’m a fisherman and I know they shouldn’t be. A pontoon boat is not made to be in the ocean,” said witness John Janoski.
All seven victims are male. Authorities have not yet released their identities.
Members of a group that identified themselves as family members of the victims did not want to talk on camera about their loved ones and the events leading up to the accident.
Though the cause of the capsizing is still under investigation, state police said strong currents could have played a factor.
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