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harrowing story

Bay News

Harrowing night on Tangier South ends happily for five survivors of capsized boat

At 7 p.m. on July 9, a 16-foot Carolina skiff with five aboard was swamped by waves during a storm about three miles off Deal Island in Tangier Sound. The water, entering over the stern, caused the boat to partially sink and then roll over, sending all of the boat's occupants into the water. All had put on their life jackets when the boat first began taking on water, and after they had been thrown into the water, all held on to the partially sunken boat. At about 7:30, one of the passengers, John Franklin Riggs, 46, decided to swim for help. At about 1 a.m.-five and a half hours later-Riggs reached shore and knocked on the door of the closest residence to call for help.
At 1:10, members of the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP), Maryland State Police (MSP) Aviation , Deal Island VFD, Mt. Vernon VFD, and the U.S. Coast Guard were dispatched to search for the four remaining people in the water between Haines Point and Shark Fin Shoal in Northern Tangier Sound. MSP aviation Trooper 4 was the first to locate the overturned vessel near the mouth of the Wicomico River at about 3 a.m. Trooper 4 then directed the responding boats to the overturned vessel. The occupants were still holding on the vessel when the Mt. Vernon VFD rescue boat located them. The occupants were transferred to a larger NRP vessel and taken to Deal Island Harbor, where they received medical attention from Princess Anne EMS. All were treated at the scene and released.
In addition to Riggs, of Rock Hall, Md., the occupants of the boat were John Riggs, 70, of Salisbury, Contessa Riggs, 43, of Washington D.C., Conrad Drake, 3, of Washington D.C. and Emily Horn, 9, for California. Drake is the son of Contessa Riggs, and Horn is her niece.
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