Three boaters were pulled from the water south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and a diver rescued a fourth boater from beneath their capsized boat after a collision, Maryland authorities said.
A person who spotted flares Thursday night found the capsized 30-foot boat and three people in the water nearby, Natural Resources Police said in a release. By the time Anne Arundel County and Annapolis fire department boats arrived, the three had been pulled from the water onto another boat, but a fourth person was missing and believed to be in the capsized boat's cabin, police said.
When Natural Resources Police Officer 1st Class Brian Hunt arrived on the scene, he said Anne Arundel County Fire Department personnel told him the man had been knocking on the hull and they believed he was still alive. Hunt didn’t have a wetsuit, but said he decided to go into the water to see what condition the man was in and how much air he had.
As he approached, Hunt touched the man’s legs and his response told him the man was conscious. He discovered the man in a small air pocket.
Hunt shoved his secondary regulator into the man’s mouth and told him, “Breathe normally. I’m going to save your life.” He grabbed the man’s hand then sunk below his legs and pulled with everything he had.
The man’s life jacket helped him pop right up next to the boat, where he could be pulled from the water, Hunt said.
The man was flown to a hospital with symptoms consistent with hypothermia and was released Friday, police said. The other three people declined medical treatment.
Officials determined that the boat had been involved in a collision with another boat found by an Anne Arundel County fireboat, police said. The second boat was disabled, but the people on that boat weren't injured. The collision is still under investigation.
The rescue was unusual since the dive team's work usually involves recovering bodies, and Hunt said this was the first time the team has rescued someone. The team was created in 1963 to help with vessel and body recoveries, search for criminal evidence and help at accident scenes, according to the department's website.
Hunt, who has been a diver since 1994 and has been with the department's dive team for five years, was happy to be a part of an effort with a good outcome.
“This was the first time in my career when we’ve been able to rescue someone," he said. “After years of seeing tragic boat accidents on the water ... it's just a positive thing to see somebody's life saved. I've seen people die in far less.”