Actress and prominent Bellport resident Isabella Rossellini came upon eight people who got tossed into the currents of the Fire Island breach at Old Inlet Sunday afternoon and called 911 to alert the authorities.
The boat’s passengers, two adults, one senior, two teenagers and three children, all managed to make it to the oceanside beach of Fire Island’s Otis Pike Wilderness Area, west of the inlet, after the spill.
Rossellini, who was on a beach walk with a friend, gave the group “whatever they had with them to keep them warm, as they were suffering from exposure,” according to Bellport Village officials, who issued a press release about the incident late Sunday.
The size of the boat was not immediately available from officials. A passenger in the boat, Corinne Picon, described it as a 22- or 23-foot Wellcraft center console.
Click here for her full account.
The boat capsized about 4 p.m. No citations were issued, Suffolk police said.
After Rossellini’s phone call, the lifeguards at Ho-Hum Beach to the west heard the emergency transmission and ran the 1.5-mile span of the beach to help.
“They found that the group was in a state of shock with lacerations and bruises – one was hit on the head when the boat had capsized,” according to the village. “The adults on the boat feared that the children were caught under the boat; however, all eight made it to safety on their own.
The lifeguards — Alex Sneddon, Glen Spetta, and Alexandra Donnelly, under the leadership of head lifeguard John Foley — immediately began to stabilize the people, officials said.
Fire Island National Seashore rangers then drove the group westward down the beach, where they were met at Bellport’s Ho-Hum Beach Marina Suffolk County Police Department Marine Bureau officers.
They then boarded the village’s Whalehouse Point Ferry and were captained to land by Mark Leuly, who was making his last run of the day.
In Bellport Village, the ferry was met by South Country Community Ambulance personnel, with Chief Greg Miglino and Luis Salinas on hand, and the capsized boat passengers were transported to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital for treatment.
Deputy Mayor Joseph Gagliano, Trustee Michael Ferrigno and the village clerk, John Kocay, were also at the marina upon the arrival of the ferryboat.
The SCPD Marine Bureau and South Country Ambulance each station rescue boats at Bellport’s Main Pier for these types of emergencies, whether those emergencies happen on the ocean, bay or inlet, according to the village.
However, the ambulance boat was previously damaged and is being repaired, Kocay later added. It will be returning to Bellport Marina, he said.
Rossellini stayed with the group all the way to safety, officials said.
Top: One of the boys rescued from Old Inlet Sunday. (Credit: Bellport Village)
Editor’s note: The Fire Island Wilderness Breach is not recognized as a navigable inlet by the U.S. Coast Guard. The area is not marked by any buoys and caution is required. The National Park Service (NPS) is in the process of making a decision to determine whether or not to close the breach.
From Fire Island National Seashore: Mechanized vessels are prohibited within the wilderness breach. Not only does this dynamic feature presents a significant safety risk to boaters but it is located within a federally designated wilderness managed “to preserve natural conditions” and to be “untrammeled by man,” where motorized equipment is prohibited.