Editorials

Editorial: Our first responders save the day once again

We were reminded this week that our bays and boating can be a dangerous combination, as we saw once again that our first responders arrive to save the day on so many occasions.

On June 13, four people and a dog were rescued from a 10-foot boat a half-mile north of Wading River Beach in Riverhead. Reports had reached police of “several subjects that appeared to be struggling” in their small boat in Long Island Sound.

Upon arrival, police could see that they were grappling with the current and winds. The swift and overwhelming response included the Riverhead police department’s dive team, the Wading River and Rocky Point fire departments and the U.S. Coast Guard.

First to reach the boat were the dive team and the Rocky Point Fire Department’s marine unit. Everyone on board was brought back safely to shore.

On June 15, two people aboard a 29-foot boat pulled up dockside at Safe Harbor’s Greenport marina to gas up before heading out to enjoy a beautiful day on the bay. When the engine was started after fueling, a “violent” explosion threw William Gremler, 61, and Lisa Schoenstein, 43, into the water with serious burns and injuries.

As this week’s Suffolk Times reports, first responders were on scene in less than a minute, while someone, apparently a marina worker, grabbed a nearby dinghy and helped pull both people from the water. As the story also reports, Ms. Schoenstein kept Mr. Gremler’s head above water, surely saving his life.

The Southold, Greenport and East Marion fire departments responded, as did a Suffolk County Police Department helicopter, which took them both to the hospital. Everyone who was there and saw what happened said police and fire crews did an extraordinary job.

Then, on the evening of June 18, a Virginia man was rescued after his 16-foot sailboat overturned in the Sound off Kenney’s Beach in Southold. By all accounts, the 61-year-old simply could not catch up to the boat.

Here, once again, we saw our first responders jump into action. After Southold police officer John Crosser spotted the victim from land, bay constables John Kirincic and Kris Dimon brought him to safety, transferring him to a Southold Fire Department boat that returned him to shore at nearby McCabes Beach.

A Suffolk County police helicopter assisted in the rescue, which occurred shortly after 6 p.m. The man was checked out at the scene by EMS, but declined further medical treatment.

We are blessed to live on a narrow finger of land that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, with salt water on both sides. But that water, be it ocean, Sound or bay — or even a backyard pool — can be perilous. 

Our first responders deserve our full gratitude for the rescues they execute so professionally and for their ongoing devotion to assisting people who need them — often desperately.

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