Water Rescue

2 Paddleboarders Rescued After Being Trapped Off Scituate Coast During Storm

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It didn't take long for the 911 calls to start coming in Tuesday evening in Scituate, Massachusetts, a place known for its wild weather, as a powerful storm was moving through the area.

"It came in quick, the winds whipped up, we had almost zero visibility, two to four foot seas, lightning," Scituate Fire Chief John Murphy said. "Very difficult conditions to navigate through on a good day in this area."

Just before 8 p.m., a caller reported a boat in distress and a missing diver in North Scituate near Minot Beach.

By the time police, firefighters and the harbormaster could get there, the diver has been found safe. Then, another 911 call, this one for a paddleboarder who was in distress, her friend missing.

"The dispatcher did an amazing job of trying to keep her calm in really a frantic situation and relay that information to our officers on the boat and start to vector them into her location," Scituate Police Chief Mark Thompson said.

Using Scituate's E-911 system, the dispatcher was able to track the woman's location. In near zero visibility, officers able to reach the woman and pull her to safety.

"When police pulled the first paddleboarder out, they said they saw the second paddleboarder and no life jacket so at that point we were thinking it may be a recovery," Murphy said.

The focus now shifting to that second missing paddleboarder.

"We knew that second paddleboarder was missing, she was in the water, she didn't have a PFD (personal floatation device), so we were concerned about what was going to happen with that," Thompson said. "Our officers that were on scene heard cries for help and as we were trying to determine where they were coming in, that end up being really helpful for us to locate where she was."

The second woman, amazingly, was found clinging to the buoy of a lobster trap.

"Probably saved her life, she was out there for a long time. I give her a lot of credit for being able to hang on," Thompson said. "A lot of circumstances fell into place where she did have something she could hang onto."

Scituate Town Administrator James Boudreau says police, fire and EMS routinely train for worst-case scenarios, but Tuesday night's weather added another element.

"The two paddleboarders were very fortunate that the Marine Unit had already responded out there, to the first call, so they were on scene when the second call came in," he said. "If they hadn't been on scene, I think we may have had a different outcome."

Both women were brought to shore, checked out by paramedics and released.

"It was a set of circumstances that worked out in everybody's favor. If everything hadn't gone right, this would have been a bad outcome," Boudreau said.

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