It was supposed to be a routine tour by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in the waters off the coast of Dorchester County, but if it weren’t for a good Samaritan living nearby, the trip could have had a horrific ending. According to WBAL TV 11, 14 of the 23 passengers rescued from the sinking 40-foot boat were children.
Investigations into what exactly happened are ongoing by the Coast Guard and Chesapeake Bay Foundation, but the cause is believed to be an underwater military tank — at least, according to the man who saved those on board.
Capt. Jeremy Shockley is a crabber who lives in the area. Fortunately, he was at the dock when he heard a mayday call come in from the U.S. Coast Guard. Knowing the waters well, Shockley and his team didn’t waste any time and quickly made their way to the location the Coast Guard provided.
“Me and Brandon [Deville] started grabbing. He got one arm, I got the other. We just picked them right up, easy as we could, because one had a hurt leg, picked them up. They walked over to the stern. They were just as calm as they could be,” said Daniel Shockley, who was part of the rescue team.
“As soon as we received the DSC alert we knew their exact position,” said Lt J.G. Issac Yates, a command duty officer at the MD-NCR command center. “All 23 persons in the water were wearing their life preservers. That greatly enhanced their survivability.”
While everyone fortunately made it out of the water alive, not everyone made it out completely unscathed. In addition to one person being airlifted to Peninsula Regional Medical Center, the captain of the sinking ship reported face trauma, and one girl even had a tooth knocked out. Most parents worry about their kids losing teeth from things like energy drinks, which cause twice as much enamel loss as sports drinks; in Chesapeake Bay, though, things could have been far more serious.
“I asked the captain what happened. He says, ‘Man, I hit something hard. It stopped me in my tracks and threw me out my seat.’ I said, ‘You probably hit a tank.’ An old army tank — it has been here for years,” Jeremy Shockley said.
A review and investigation of the incident is currently ongoing.