Coast Guard rescues disoriented boater in Potomac River

BALTIMORE – The Coast Guard rescued a man aboard a boat who was disoriented in the Potomac River Saturday.

Rescued was Leo Dorse.

The Coast Guard received a call at 11:22 p.m., via cell phone from Dorse, the owner and operator of a 23-foot boat, reporting that while traveling from St. Mary’s River to the Yeocomico River he had lost electrical power and became disoriented.

The Coast Guard worked with the cellular phone service provider to narrow a search area near Smith Point in the Potomac River. A Good Samaritan aboard a motor vessel passed Dorse and verified his position, which correlated with the cellular position.

Rescue boatcrews from Coast Guard Station St. Inigoes, Md., and Smith Point Sea Rescue responded to the distress call and began to search. A 25-foot response boatcrew from Station St. Inigoes sighted a flare and searched the area with their spotlight. After arriving on scene at 1:52 a.m., the crew assisted Dorse and towed the boat to the nearest safe haven.

“Cell phones are not a reliable way to contact the Coast Guard,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Nicole Clark, a search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore. “A cell phone is not waterproof. It can lose power, and it doesn’t always have coverage. It makes it very hard to rely on an instrument that isn’t meant for this kind of activity.”

The Coast Guard urges mariners to outfit their boat with a functioning marine-band radio. Using channel 16 on a marine-band radio is the most reliable way to communicate a distress to search and rescue personnel in the event of an emergency while on the water.

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