Two NJ Boaters Rescued by First Responders After Capsizing

Firefighter carrying a ladder

Caroline Fassett


Two young men were rescued from drowning in the freezing waters of the Round Valley Reservoir by a local New Jersey first responder unit on Saturday.

South Branch Emergency Services, a combination of the former Clintonand High BridgeEmergency Medical Services agencies operating out of Hunterdon County, arrived shortly after 10 retrieve two men that sailed out onto the water in a small boat that capsized.

Bystanders on the shoreline called 911 and worked with dispatchers to provide an accurate location of the two men, giving them a detailed description of what was happening while first responders made their way to the scene, said Chris Miller, deputy chief of South Branch Emergency Services.

“If they hadn’t called 911, this could have been a very different story,” Miller said. “The bystanders truly made a difference.”

The overturned boat was approximately 500 yards from the shoreline of the reservoir, Miller said. He added that he was uncertain of why the two men were out on the water, or what exactly caused their boat to capsize.

“They were not 100% sure what happened,” Miller said. “They said they started taking on water, and then they had to abandon the boat, but that they were able to get on it once it was flipped over.”

The two men were in the water for between 15 to 30 minutes and exhibiting signs of hypothermia prior to first responders arriving, according to Miller. Crews pulled the victims out of the boat and returned them to shore in just under one minute, with the total rescue from shoreline to shoreline being just under five minutes, he added.

Once at the shoreline, both men were treated by the rescue squad and medical intensive care unit of the Hunterdon Medical Center. Afterwards, they were transported to the Hunterdon Medical Center, Miller said.

Days prior to Saturday’s incident, members of South Branch Emergency Servicesran a water and ice rescue drill at Ridge Pondin Clinton.

“This is why we do the training that we do — because just five days later, we get the real thing out on the water,” Miller said.

In addition to South Branch Emergency Services, Clinton Township Police, New Jersey State Park Police, and paramedics from Hunterdon Medical Centeralso responded to the incident.

“The ongoing training of the water rescue team as well as the efficiency exhibited that day really resulted in the patients getting the fastest and best care possible,” Miller said.

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