Accomack Sheriff's Office rescues two from water

ONANCOCK, Va. (Delmarva Now) -- Officers from the Accomack County Sheriff's Office on Saturday evening rescued two duck hunters whose small aluminum boat capsized in high winds.

Sheriff Todd Godwin, Sgt. David Smullin and Deputy Tom Willett of the sheriff's office and Steve Loomis of the Accomack County Department of Public Safety responded by boat to an emergency call to help two men in the water near East Point.

"Our dispatch contacted me approximately 6:18. They had received a call from the victims — they were in the water," said Smullin, adding, "It was very bad conditions."

Winds were blowing at approximately 40 to 50 miles per hour at the time as a cold front came through the area.

Smullin is the operator of a 25-foot Safe boat the Accomack County Sheriff's Office acquired this summer in order to better serve Tangier Island, Sheriff Todd Godwin said.

Willett and Smullin are assigned to the boat, a former Coast Guard vessel designed for search and rescue missions.

The boat was docked close by at Onancock Wharf at the time the call for help came in.

"The response time was definitely a factor in saving their lives and getting them out of the water as quickly as possible," Smullin said, noting the two men were in the water for about an hour.

The two victims, identified as Charles Doyle of Onancock and Daniel Harshaw of Virginia Beach, were located in between five and seven feet of water and were pulled out of the water, one at a time, using a life ring.

Water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay currently are in the high 40s to low 50s, according to the Weather Underground website.

The two were transported by boat to the East Point Marina, where medics were standing by. They then were transported to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital for treatment.

The Accomack County Department of Public Safety and Onancock Fire Department assisted with the rescue.

The victims were wearing life jackets, had a spotlight with them and had a cellular phone in a waterproof container, all of which likely helped them survive, Smullin said.

This was the first water rescue the Sheriff's Office has conducted using the boat. The department about a month ago responded, using the boat, to a report of an airplane crash on Tangier, according to Smullin.

Smullin and Willett earlier this year completed a week-long training in search and rescue techniques.


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