The summer camping season is already off to a busy start for the Virginia Marine Police, who celebrated the start of the season with a jet ski accident.
And on Saturday over the Memorial Day weekend, the Marine Police helped out with a problem in Maryland, rescuing a party of missing boaters in the middle of the night. At approximately 3:30 a.m., the Tangier Region Office was called about a missing boating party that included four adults and five children. The missing boaters departed from Crisfield on Friday evening.
Five marine police boats joined the search, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources even sent out a helicopter to search the bay. Fortunately, the weekend didn’t end in tragedy, but in another successful rescue. The five children and their four adult guardians were rescued on the southern end of Tangier Island around 5 a.m. Saturday morning, tired but unharmed.
The Natural Resources Department also teamed up with the Coast Guard over Memorial Day weekend to promote ongoing safety campaigns. In 2011, 25 people died in boating accidents in Maryland, a new high. And with 42.5 million Americans camping every year, police departments are trying to take proactive measures.
“Since we’ve increased our safety patrols, and working with [Natural Resources Police], scheduling patrols together, training together, the numbers have gone down,” says Officer Brian Kastner, who runs the Coast Guard Station in Curtis Bay. “We’re out there when people are drinking.”
After the rescue of the Crisfield boaters, Laurie Naismith of the Virginia Marine Police urged boaters to always tell loved ones where they are going and when they expect to return. Other marine safety tips to keep in mind over the summer:
- Always wear a life jacket!
- Leave a copy of your itinerary in your car. If you run into trouble on the water, police can check your car for information to assist in their rescue operation.
- Bring emergency phone numbers on the boat with you.
- Do not operate a boat while drinking, period. The Marine Police and Coast Guard are both increasing their patrols this summer.