Coast Guard rescues six people from raft in Barnegat Light Inlet, NJ

BARNEGAT LIGHT, N.J. — The Coast Guard rescued six people from a life raft after the 38-foot boat they were in ran aground and began taking on water in Barnegat Light Inlet here Thursday.

Rescued was the vessel’s captain, Albert G. Stork, Dennis R. Koleszar, from Forked River, Gary Mertz, from Northampton, Pa., Bill Sagion, from Little Egg Harbor, Albert Kristoff, from Glenshaw, Pa., and John Wargofchik from Greensburg, Pa.

At approximately 7:45 a.m., Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay watchstanders, in Philadelphia, received a VHF-FM radio hail from a crewmember aboard the fishing vessel Southern Comfort, homeported in Forked River, reporting the boat ran aground on the rocks while transiting Barnegat Light’s north jetty.

Once the boat began to sink, the crew abandoned the Southern Comfort and boarded a life raft where they waited for assistance.

Crews aboard a 25-foot Response Boat — Small and a 47-foot Motor Life Boat from Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light arrived on scene, rescued the six people and transported them back to the station. Awaiting emergency medical personnel evaluated the people and reported no injuries.

“Preparation matters,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jay Greiner, the commanding officer of Station Barnegat Light. “The captain and crew of the Southern Comfort did an outstanding job managing their crisis situation. Prior to them leaving the dock, the captain gave them a thorough brief of where all the safety gear was located and how to use it. This short brief saved valuable time as they were exiting during an emergency situation. You never plan on this happening, but preparing for it allows you to react when necessary.”

A crew aboard a 24-foot Special Purpose Craft from the station is on scene maintaining a security zone around the area while salvage plans are made. The vessel is not reported to be a hazard to navigation at this time.

Following the rescue, the fishing boat floated off the jetty and sank. The vessel is reported to have approximately 350 gallons of diesel aboard and Coast Guard pollution investigators from the sector are investigating the incident.

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