A barbecue on the water almost became a barbecue underwater for several dozen partygoers who became stranded on a sandbar near the Shinnecock Inlet.
Officials discovered the group of 37 people on the sandbar Saturday evening as they responded to reports of two swimmers in distress in the inlet.
Southampton Town police arrived in the area about 8:20 p.m. to find good Samaritans pulling Thomas Besch, 23, of Hampton Bays out of the water. A second swimmer, Michael Emmerich, 23, of Medford had been pulled into the Atlantic Ocean from the inlet by a strong current, police said. Emmerich was rescued about 200 yards south of the inlet by the U.S. Coast Guard, which had a vessel in the area, police said.
Police soon discovered that the swimmers had been at a barbecue on the sandbar in Shinnecock Bay north of the inlet, and found that 37 people were still there.
Southampton Sgt. Michael Joyce said the group had taken a boat to the sandbar, but the boat was gone by the time rescuers arrived. He had no details on the type of boat involved or why it had apparently left. The sandbar appeared only at low tides, and disappeared during high tides, Joyce said.
Police coordinated a rescue effort, which included officials from Suffolk County Police Aviation, Southampton Town Bay Constables, the Quogue Village Police Marine Unit, Suffolk County Parks Police, the fire departments of Hampton Bays, Southampton and North Sea, and Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance.
Meanwhile, police discovered a third swimmer in the inlet, Joseph Scotti, 20, of Hampton Bays. Scotti was pulled from the water by the Coast Guard, police said.
The partygoers from the sandbar were rescued and taken to Oakland's Marina in Hampton Bays, where they and the three swimmers were checked by Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance rescuers. One person whom police did not identify was taken to a hospital as a precaution, police said.
Besch was arrested and charged with violating town code by swimming in the channel. After he fled the scene when informed of his arrest, Besch was found at the Ponquogue Bridge and charged additionally with second-degree obstructing governmental administration.
Police said they planned to charge Scotti and Emmerich with violating town code by swimming in a prohibited area.
The investigation is continuing.