Three fishermen who clung to debris in the frigid waters off the coast of Massachusetts for nearly an hour after their boat sank survived thanks to a sharp-eyed woman on shore who was the only person to call 911. The local fire chief said “nobody would’ve found them” were it not for the woman’s response.
The 55-foot Bing Bing went down so fast about a mile from shore on Tuesday afternoon that the crew didn’t have time to don survival suits or even make a distress call.
“To be fine one minute, to three minutes later being in the water to save your own life. It was like traumatic,” crew member Joe Roderick told CBS Boston from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from hypothermia and from swallowing saltwater and diesel fuel.
The other two crew members also required hospitalization.
Roderick said the men held onto hoses that floated, using their arms to latch on.
They were in the 42-degree water for about 45 minutes, clinging to a piece of hose, officials said.
Pam Harght was at her desk on a work-related video call in her home in Marshfield and saw the boat sink even though it was so far away. Her home is elevated, and it was a crystal-clear day.
“I was on this call and I was kind of getting more and more stressed in terms of like, I don’t see anybody showing up, this is not good,” she told CBS Boston. “And of course it’s freezing out. The clock is ticking.”
She thought other people had already called 911, but it turned out she was the first, and only one, to call.
Roderick is grateful she did.
“If it wasn’t for this woman, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he told WCVB.
The men had about 5 minutes left to live by the time they were rescued, officials told Harght.
“Obviously, it was a great feeling,” she said. “My brother is in the fishing industry, and I thought, ‘That easily could have been his boat.'”
Without Harght’s 911 call, first responders say the men could have died.
“We probably would’ve found them on the beach tomorrow realistically,” Scituate Fire Chief John Murphy said. “Nobody would’ve found them.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.