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UPDATED: Woman Rescued from Sinking Boat in Springs

Fire chief thinks the weight of the snow on the boat may have contributed to it taking on water on Monday at 4 a.m.

Springs firefighters saved a woman off a house boat that was sinking into the icy waters of Three Mile Harbor in the early morning hours on Monday.

"It's the kind of call you expect in the summer, not in the middle of winter after a snow storm," Springs Fire Department Chief Ben Miller said.

After firefighters were called to Gardiner's Marina at 4:11 a.m., Miller said they found a woman standing barefoot on the boat's snowy deck. "It was going down real fast," he said of the boat, which estimated between 30 to 35-feet.

The boat, which was tied up to the dock, was titled to the left side, pulling away from the dock. According to an incident report police filed, a man who had been on board with the woman tried to leap from the boat to the dock, but fell into the icy water. He managed to pull himself up to the dock, and then flagged down police. 

Firefighters stretched a ladder from the dock to the boat. East Hampton Town Police Officer Denis Shea crawled across it to get to the woman and help bring her to dry land, according to Second Assistant Chief David M. King.

With temperatures at 25 degrees in East Hampton, the woman was taken to Southampton Hospital for possible hypothermia, Miller said. While her current condition was not immediately known, he said she seemed to just need a place to get warm after standing outside for 15 minutes. The man refused medical attention, police said.

The chief said that the snow on the top of the boat after the blizzard may have caused it to take on water. The pair had been asleep when the house boat began taking on water, he believed.

The head of the harbor, as well as water in the marina, was frozen.

A contractor is in the process of removing the boat from the water, according to Marine Patrol Chief Ed Michels.

The fire department, which responded with two engines, the heavy rescue truck, and the ambulance, as well as about 35 firefighters, was back in the firehouse in about 45 minutes.

The East Hampton Townwide Hazmat team, under the supervision of the East Hampton Fire Marshal's office, also responded, to assess the boat for leaking fuel in the frozen harbor. Chief David (Buzzy) Browne was not immediately available for comment.

Miller said he advised Coast Guard Station Montauk of the situation, but because the boat was tied up at the dock, officers did not respond with a vessel.

CUL8R February 14, 2013 at 10:24 PM
in Regards to TTTT's comment...they may have been asleep - but how could they not have known there was a bad storm happening, its not like the storm crept in during the middle of the night. If you are a boat owner and even more so if you are LIVING (illegally or not) on a boat in the middle of winter you should be well aware of the weather and its potential for danger.
Martha Nassauer February 15, 2013 at 02:23 AM
I am not familiar with the winter boating codes of EH, but I did read that at least one Marina at Three Mile Harbor offers restrooms and showers, and advertises on their website "The basin is very quiet, bordered with reserves on three sides, making it perfect for sleeping overnight on your vessel." This sounds great, if it is not breaking any Town codes. Bubble systems are used frequently for boats that remain in the slip to prevent ice damage. Portable refuse systems are also available for sanitation purposes. Luckily nobody was injured in the making of this adventure gone amiss.
CUL8R February 15, 2013 at 02:42 PM
It is in the town code that floating homes are prohibited.
CUL8R February 15, 2013 at 02:43 PM
Article II section 246-16
ehehe February 25, 2013 at 06:35 PM
I'm not at all surprised that this floating junkpile sunk. I took a walk by there 2-3 weeks prior to this incident and noticed the boat had a broken window on the dockside, which had not been repaired. It seemed overall quite old and poorly maintained. Anyone leaving a boat in the water over the winter should know to clear ice and snow, and should maintain everything to the highest standard. Not only is your life at risk, but also the lives of rescuers who must respond to a situation you put them in. You can see the oil floating in the ice and slush in these photos. When a vessel goes down, the owner is responsible for the salvage and cleanup costs.

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