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Missing rafter in Long Island Sound rescued, says Coast Guard

Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary crew members

Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary crew members rescued a stranded mariner northeast of Port Jefferson in the Long Island Sound on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. The stranded mariner was found adrift in this inflatable raft. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard public affairs

A man who spent two nights aboard a small inflatable raft in the Long Island Sound was rescued Tuesday morning northeast of Port Jefferson, after an off-duty U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary member spotted him adrift in the dinghy, officials said.

A Coast Guard Auxiliary member was en route from Port Jefferson to Block Island with his wife on his personal boat when he came across the man in the 14-foot raft, frantically waving a T-shirt. The auxiliary member brought him onto his boat, and the Coast Guard dispatched another boat to pick him up at about 9:50 a.m.

The rescued man said he and a friend departed from Milford, Connecticut, on Sunday. The men’s names and hometowns were not immediately available.

After a day on the water, at about 2 p.m. Monday one of the men had attempted to swim to Charles Island near Milford, Coast Guard officials said. That man was found in the raft near Silver Sands State Park during low tide on Tuesday morning.

A second man was soon discovered after spending the night on Charles Island, off the coast of Milford, Conn.

Both men were taken to local hospitals for further evaluation and treatment. Coast Guard officials did not know their conditions.

That incident was one of three area searches conducted by the Coast Guard on Sunday, when high winds made for dangerous conditions. One, the search for paddleboarder Gary Turkel, 41, of Atlantic Beach, has proved fruitless.

Turkel went missing in the Atlantic Ocean off Atlantic Beach on Sunday. Coast Guard officials suspended the search for Turkel Tuesday afternoon.

“We have run every asset that we could,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Steve Strohmaier. “We stretched everything pretty thin and did not come up with any results.”

Strohmaier said he believed Turkel was alone when he set out on the water in Atlantic Beach.

In a second incident, a mother and her young daughter were found on a beach in Orient early Monday, having survived a harrowing windblown overnight crossing in a kayak from Connecticut — an incident that left two men dead, both from suspected hypothermia suffered from exposure. One of the men had been in the kayak; the other on a paddleboard.

With John Valenti

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