NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Coast Guard vessel capsized in rough seas early Thursday morning while it was trying to save the crew of a fishing boat that had run aground off Queens, ending in a second dramatic rescue but no serious injuries.
The Carolina Queen III, a 76-foot scallop fishing boat from Virginia, was on the eighth day of its journey when Coast Guard officials said 12-foot waves began tossing the boat around 2 a.m., the water lapping onto deck and below.
“They were using pumps to pump it back over and over time, it just floated and ended up grounded,” said Coast Guard Lt. William Stewart.
The Coast Guard told CBS2’s Alice Gainer the fishing boat was riding out the storm closer to shore.
Stuck in the Rockway Peninsula, FDNY Battalion Chief Timothy Scully said the fishing crew sent up flares that could be seen by people living close to shore.
“We didn’t find the exact location until a caller from a fourth floor unit saw the rescue flares from the boat,” he said.
“We smelled some fumes in the air, it was coming through the windows,” said resident Jeffrey Maisonet. “We didn’t really know what was going on at the time. ”
As a five-member Coast Guard crew went to find them, officials said it appears they hit a sandbar, causing their 25-foot rescue boat to capsize about two miles from where the fishing boat got stuck.
The crew was wearing protective gear and officials said all five were able to safely swim to shore.
“No injuries, no hypothermia so everybody is safe, thankfully,” Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Alisa Flockerzi said.
A Coast Guard helicopter was then called in to pull the crew of the fishing boat to safety. One by one, a basket from the helicopter plucked the seven fisherman from the vessel as mesmerized residents looked on.
“This is intense, very intense,” said resident Lasharn Harriston.
Even with the boat so close to dry ground, rescuers said the violent lapping waves were just too dangerous to risk having the men swim to shore, forcing the dramatic airlift.
“A U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer went into the water and he couldn’t even handle the conditions, so the conditions are very deceiving,” said FDNY Battalion Chief George Healy.
CBS2 reports the Coast Guard questioned members of the fishing boat at Jamaica Hospital about what happened.
The fishing boat is still stuck and could be seen listing to one side in the water off Beach 59th Street. The Coast Guard said it is working on salvage plans to remove the fishing vessel.
“Looks fairly intact, the steel hull, and we’re working with contractors and the owners to remove that from the beach now,” Coast Guard Lt. William Stewart told CBS2.
No injuries were reported.