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Man Swims 5 Hours to Save Family After Boat Overturns near Maryland

By Morgan Chilson   |   Thursday, 11 Jul 2013 06:27 PM

A man swam 5 hours to find rescuers for his family members clinging to a capsized fishing boat in jelly fish-infested waters in Tangier Sound, Md., waters after their boat capsized Tuesday.

USA Today reports John Franklin Riggs, 46, was fishing with family when a storm filled his boat with water, turning it over. He swam miles and then climbed rocks through the darkness to awaken a woman at 1 a.m. Wednesday to ask for help, the paper said.

On the boat were Riggs’ 70-year-old father, a 9-year-old niece, Riggs’ sister, Contessa Riggs, and her 3-year-old son, USA Today said.

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Contessa Riggs said in the article that the boat turned over about two miles from shore, but it drifted about five miles while Riggs was gone. She said sea nettles stung the family members while they held onto the boat in the dark. All had on life jackets.

After calling 911, Riggs went on a rescue boat with volunteer firefighters to find his family.

Sgt. Brian Albert at the Maryland Natural Resources Police told a newspaper reporter that the family was very lucky no one was hurt. The U.S. Coast Guard, a Maryland State Police helicopter, and other firefighters joined the search.

The article reported that 9-year-old Emily Horn thought her uncle was a hero, and added that the next time her family goes fishing, she’ll only go if it’s in shallow water.

In April, two family members had their own long swim to safety. A brother and sister plowed 14 hours through the ocean near St. Lucia, UK’s Daily Mail reported. Like the Riggs’ boat, the fishing boat Dan and Kate Suski were on flooded with water and capsized. The captain and a crew member also tried to swim to shore, but they became separated and were rescued after 23 hours in the water, the newspaper said.

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