Thanks to a new moon on Sept. 9, the tides in Hempstead Harbor were within inches of its peak height. High tide occurred just before noon that day, which is approximately when Tom Dillon, the launch manager of the Glen Cove Yacht Club, noticed some fishermen out on the jetty at Morgan Park.
“The tide was getting high,” Dillon said in a video posted on Facebook, “and the jetty was awash.” That’s when he saw one of the fishermen — of which there were about two dozen — slip on the rocks and fall into the water. “Somebody tried to pass a fishing rod to him to try to pull him in,” Dillon said, but the would-be rescuer lost his balance and fell in too.
Dillon sprung into action. He launched his vessel, he said in the video, and “came as close as I could get without hitting the rocks.” After getting the two safely onto the dock at the club, Dillon radioed for the Glen Cove Harbor Patrol.
According to Harbor Patrol Chief John Testa, the call came through around noon. “Our guys were going out through the creek,” Testa said, “and they heard a call come over [the radio] from the yacht club.”
In an effort to avoid being thrown off balance by the wakes, or slipping and falling, Dillon said that several of the fishermen were sitting down on the jetty. Testa added that some had jumped into the water and swam the nearly quarter-mile toward the shore.
“We do rescues all the time,” Testa said, “but not of this magnitude.”
Several other rescue agencies had responded to Dillon’s call too, including Glen Cove Fire Department and EMS, Nassau County Police and a New York City Fire Department patrol boat that had been exploring the waters around the prison complex on Riker’s Island almost 15 miles away.
Testa added that in the five years that he had been the Harbor Patrol chief, the agency hadn’t been part of a rescue involving so many agencies.
This isn’t the first time jetty flooding has led to rescue efforts. “[Fishermen] probably get stranded out there a couple of times year,” Dillon said, adding that other instances, as far as he could remember, were “not as bad as yesterday was.”
According to the Nassau County Police Department, no injuries were reported.
Mitch Schlimer contributed to this story.