Cellphone saves sinking boat

  • Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dan Brown/Gazette The Berkeley County Rescue Squad assisted the SC Dept. of Natural Resources in rescuing a sinking boat on Lake Moultrie.

A cellphone call proved to be good luck for three boaters on Lake Moultrie last week.

When a rogue wave hit their boat causing it to take on water, 40-year old James Feagin; his son, 20-year old Jessie Feagin; and a third occupant, 41-year old James Garrett; all of Moncks Corner, thought fast on their feet. They quickly grabbed life jackets and called 911 on their cellphones.

“They were able to grab life jackets before the boat sank,” said Berkeley County Rescue Squad Chief Bill Salisbury. “They were also able to call 911 and keep the cellphone above the water line and provide directions.”

The three boaters were rescued by a DNR officer at 9:30 p.m.

“This is the second rescue in the last several weeks involving three people and a sinking boat,” Salisbury said.

On June 1, the Rescue Squad pulled three boaters out of Lake Moultrie after their boat took on water and sank. The boaters were stranded with the boat for nine hours as rescue squad workers scoured Lake Moultrie in their search.

Life jackets and quick use of a cellphone once the boat sank aided in the Resuce Squad’s recovery of the victims.

“The Rescue Squad was notified by the father that their boat was overdue. They did not file a float plan and the father was convinced the victims were on the river and not on the lake,” he said. “The father kept saying they’re on the river, they’re on the river. They never go on the lake.”

The Rescue Squad found the victims clinging to the overturned boat around 1:30 a.m. Monday morning, June 2 on Lake Moultrie.

“They had been in the water more than eight hours,” Salisbury said.

With the busiest recreational boating traffic of the summer hitting Lake Moultrie and the Tail Race Canal this week, Salisbury implored boaters to follow boating safety practices such as filing a float plan, having adequate life jackets on hand and to keep an eye on the weather.

“Lake Moultrie is a shallow lake and it doesn’t take a lot of wind to stir things up and make conditions dangerous, so please, file a float plan,” he said. “There is a lot of water out there to search and it’s important somebody knows where you are sailing.”

Salisbury said two things helped save lives in the most recent rescue: “life jackets and cellphones.”

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