Dramatic rescue after boat capsizes in Atlantic

Two Long Island fisherman help rescue three men and two boys after their boat capsizes off Atlantic Beach. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Sept. 22, 2012)

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Two fishermen from Long Island rescued three men and two boys after their boat capsized Saturday morning off Atlantic Beach -- an accident that left another person critically injured, authorities said.

Martin Safer, 55, of Lido Beach, and John Bologna, 48, of Oceanside, were fishing about three miles off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean when a nearby boat, whose passengers were also fishing, overturned.

Less than a minute before the accident, Safer said, he looked to his right and saw the 21-foot Cobia Fish Tracker about 300 yards away. When he looked back moments later, the boat was sinking and people were in the water shouting for help.

Safer said a man in the water holding a small boy yelled, "Get the baby! Get the baby!" an apparent reference to the other child.

Safer said he and Bologna sped to the scene. While Safer held the boat steady, Bologna pulled the frightened people from the water.

The rescued men, all from Queens, were 48, 54 and 56 years old, and the boys were 8 and 10, according to Nassau County police. Their names were not released.

The boys "were in shock when we first brought them up screaming," Safer said.

Once on board, the rescued men started shouting for "D" and the good Samaritans realized another person was missing.

Safer called 911 on his cellphone, but rescue crews were already on the way.

One of the men on the ill-fated boat had managed to make a brief emergency radio call, saying the vessel was taking on water, said  U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Vania Czumak,  who was the search and rescue controller.

Mayday was about all the man had time to say, Czumak said, adding that the boat "must have gone down quick."

Czumak said other boaters had complained about rough seas Saturday, with 3-foot-high waves in some areas.

The Coast Guard traced the location of the distress call and sent boats and a helicopter, Czumak said. NYPD, FDNY and Nassau police also responded.

An NYPD diver went under and quickly resurfaced with a sixth passenger from under the capsized boat, Safer said. He had been under the water for nearly 15 minutes.

That boater -- identified only as a 49-year-old Queens man -- was unconscious with a pulse when he was airlifted to Staten Island University Hospital, according to police.

He was listed in critical condition last night, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The other boaters were taken to hospitals to be treated for "minor exposure," said Nassau police Insp. Kenneth Lack.

Lack, who said the cause of the capsizing couldn't be immediately determined, praised Safer and Bologna for their quick action. "Like this community does, they always come to each other's rescue when there is an emergency," he said.

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