Big Crow Island, New York

How much does a search cost? How do people put themselves in these situations?

Easy to answer that - they never think it will happen to them. Then it does.

Incident date: July 10, 2019

Yes, we make mistakes. We know that. So what are you willing to do about that? Make another mistake and another?

The warning signals are flashed all over the media, but we have folks who ignore the call to action.

Seriously now, you don't want to be embarrassed or stress your loved ones out do you? Of course not!

Then prepare to stay out of the headlines and police reports.

These incidents happen for a number of reasons such as:

1. Poor preventative maintenance and inspection
2. Poor communication with family or friends on land
3. No functioning electronic communication devices
4. Unfamiliarity with the areas recreating
5. Unfamiliar with risk associated with decisions (no thinking of the worse case situation)
6. Not check the fuel level or riding distances
7. Running aground due to low visibility or not checking the tides
8. Not checking the National Weather Service or monitoring the channel underway for alerts

Naussau County police and mutual aid agencies rescued a stranded Jet Ski from the marshes Wednesday night, south of Merrick, in Merrick Bay.

A distress call was received about 8:45 pm and multiple fire departments including Merrick Fire Department responded for the search and rescue. The Jetskier was missing and his boat was unaccounted for and it was getting dark.

Merrick Fire Department Marine 1 had been searching with other agencies for nearly 2 hours. Their personnel heard a faint whistle blowing north of their location.

The three Marine 1 crew members confirmed this was a distress signal. They pointed out the area the sound was traveling from. If not for these alert crew members the outcome for this PWC operator could have been much different.

NCPD Marine 11 was notified and the NCPD helicopter flew to conduct the aerial search in the direction.

1. Nassau County Police, 7th Precinct
2. NCPD - Marine Bureau
3. Nassau Police - Aviation Bureau
4. United States Coast Guard Station Jones Beach
5. Wantagh Fire Department
6. Freeport Fire Department


Shortly thereafter the Nassau Police helicopter located the missing person in the marsh on Big Crow Island, he was recovered and taken to Wantagh Park.

The Personal Water Craft Operator refused medical attention.

This was a significant mutual aid call-out requiring multiple assets to determine the location of the survivor.

Calls at night in remote areas such as this type of terrain are not always easy to access. There may be safety limitations placed on responders to make contact. Night operations are an entirely higher level of risk for responders.


This Personal Water Craft operator and all others need to take heed to the lessons learned here. This incident should not be repeated but used as a case example for personal safety and preservation of life.

1. Bring a Marine VHF radio and have it connected to your lifejacket
2. Use a tracking device such as SPOT or inReach. Buy the Search and Rescue insurance. These have built in
3. File a float plan!
4. Make sure you are familiar with the area of operation
5. Do not operate 30 minutes prior to sunset, night riding is illegal and if you get into trouble you just
complicated your survival rate drastically due to exposure and low visibility
6. Do not ride alone! One is None!
7. Attach a high pitch whistle to your lifejacket strap. That is exactly what saved this individual, but the
search time could have been limited by better preparation of the Operator.
8. Carry on board all the Federal, State required or suggested signaling devices:
• Handheld Flare
• Electronic Flare
• Smoke Flare
• Water Whistle
• Signaling mirror
• Fog horn aerosol can
• Stowage protective case

Do not rely on a cell phone. You may drop it overboard, get it wet or the battery will fail, this is not your first choice for communication, but a Marine Band radio set to Channel 16 is!

If we count all the individuals involved from multi agency support through the command we are looking at over 100 trained persons having influenced this recovery to some degree. Not to mention the millions of dollars in assets used. We are thankful to have outstanding support from departments such as these.

But it is a relationship. The recreational boater needs to take responsibility for their choices.

Everyone must be prepared. If you are not prepared, don't launch.

There is no exception and no excuse to entertain.

You are 100% responsible for everything that takes place once you launch your Personal Water Craft.

Research your boating laws, don’t just take a course, make your behavior part of lifesaving.

How much is your life worth?

A whistle? You bet it is!

Posted: July 11, 2019

Content Creator of Rescue Water Craft and Personal Water Craft boating international education standards: Shawn Alladio is the world’s foremost authority and leading subject matter expert. She cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.


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Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.