TWO PERISH IN NEW JERSEY ACCIDENT
MANASQUAN - Seven people were pulled from the Atlantic Ocean Friday after a pontoon boat capsized outside the mouth of the Manasquan Inlet sending all occupants overboard.
The boat, estimated to be 30 to 35 feet, was carrying seven people when it flipped around 1:30 p.m., said Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Chris Sparkman, commander of the agency's Manasquan Station.
He said all seven were pulled from the 53-degree water and taken to hospitals. Sparkman did not know their conditions or what they had been doing before the vessel capsized.
"A lot of people saw it and immediately went into action," Sparkman said.
Those rescuers included surfers, who paddled out to the capsized boat, and operators of other boats nearby.
In addition to the Coast Guard, New Jersey State Police marine units and New York Police Department rescue divers were at the scene. At least four rescue boats and three helicopters are involved in the ongoing search.
Within an hour of the incident, crews were collecting debris such as personal flotation devices and coolers that went overboard when the boat flipped.
There was a good amount of boat traffic in and out of the inlet Friday as temperatures climbed into the 60s and winds were light.
While the seas were relatively calm, occasionally large swells broke on the jetty at the entrance to the inlet, which separates Manasquan to the north and Point Pleasant Beach to the south. One police officer estimated the waves occasionally were 5 to 6 feet.
Initially, one of the vessel's occupants was unaccounted for, according to Point Pleasant Beach police. However, a New York Police Department dive team was seen pulling the last of the occupants from the water.
Four rescue helicopters circled overhead during the rescue effort.
Witnesses said the boat was attempting to return from the ocean through the choppy waters of the inlet when it capsized.