Five Rescued near Tangier Sound When Vessel Overturns
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Five Rescued near Tangier Sound When Vessel Overturns

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At approximately 7 p.m., on July 9, 2013, a boat Mr. John Riggs, 70, was operating with four others was swamped by waves during a storm approximately 3 miles offshore.  The 16 foot Carolina Skiff was swamped by waves entering the vessel over the stern.  When the boat took on water all of the occupants put on their life jackets.  The water in the boat caused it to partially sink and then roll over, ejecting the occupants into the water.  All five occupants held on to the partially sunken boat and around 7:30 p.m. John Franklin Riggs, 46, decided to swim for help. Mr. Riggs reached the shore  at approximately 1:00 a.m. and knocked on the door of the closest residence to call for help.

At 1:10 a.m. the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP), MSP Aviation , Deal Island VFD, Mt. Vernon VFD, and the USCG were dispatched to search for the four subjects in the water between Haines Point and Shark Fin Shoal in Northern Tangier Sound.  MSP aviation Trooper 4 was the first to locate the overturned vessel near the mouth of the Wicomico River at approximately 3:00 a.m.  Trooper 4 then directed the responding boats to the overturned vessel.  The occupants were still holding on the vessel when Mt. Vernon VFD rescue boat located them.  The occupants were transferred to a larger NRP vessel and taken to Deal Island Harbor where they received medical attention from Princess Anne EMS.  All subjects were treated at the scene and released.

The occupants of the boat were John Riggs, 70, of Salisbury, John Franklin Riggs, 46, of Rock Hall, MD, Contessa Riggs, 43, of Washington DC, Conrad Drake, 3, of Washington DC and Emily Horn, 9, of California.  Drake is the son of Contessa Riggs and Horn is the niece of Contessa Riggs.

Lifejackets and a quick response by multiple jurisdictions were responsible for the safe rescue of all victims in this incident.

NRP reminds citizens to wear your lifejacket while boating and make sure someone is aware of your travel plans, such as departure time, direction of travel, expected time of return.  This type of plan is referred to as a “Float Plan” and should be used whenever you set out, regardless of distance or time on the water.