Three Tyrrell County crabbers were rescued from the shore of the Alligator River Wednesday night, five hours after their boat capsized in rough seas.
Tyrrell County Sheriff Darryl Liverman says the three men were rescued at 9:50 p.m., and the initial call of the boat capsizing came in at 5:05 p.m.
The men, who survived the ordeal, are identified as Minh Nguyen, Dai Thacia and Hong Mihn Lam.
Sheriff Liverman says there were four to five foot seas in the Alligator River when the boat capsized. The men were able to swim to shore and call for help. However, there is no road to the shore where they were stranded. "The only way there is by boat or by helicopter," Liverman said.
In fact, it took both a boat and a helicopter to rescue the men. A Coast Guard boat located the men and picked them up from the shore. After that, a Coast Guard helicopter hoisted the men from the river and flew them to the Coast Guard Air Station at Elizabeth City. EMS crews checked the men for injuries there and released them.
Several agencies were involved in the rescue, including the Tyrrell County Sheriff's Office, Tyrrell County Fire/EMS, North Carolina Emergency Management, Highway Patrol, NC Wildlife and the Coast Guard.
All three boaters are fine.
Originally a North Carolina Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team planned to do the rescue, but that wasn't necessary.
That state crew would have consisted of a State Highway Patrol helicopter and pilot, accompanied by two rescue technicians from the Raleigh Fire Department.
Officials say it took several hours to rescue the men because of choppy waters, churned up by Tropical Depression Beryl. There was also a lot of debris in the water following the tropical system.
There was concern the men might suffer from hypothermia because of the amount of time they spent in the water. However, officials say the men are doing ok. Their names have not been released at this time.