OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — A person was rescued from the ocean Wednesday morning at the Oak Island Pier, according to Oak Island Water Rescue.
Just before 8:00 a.m., several agencies including fire, police, and EMS, were dispatched for a water rescue at the pier.
OIWR responded with both 4×4 trucks and a surf launch boat.
“The person was clinging to a pier piling in the surf under the pier, which made for some dicey boat driving,” OIWR said.
Bystanders say the man climbed over the railing on the Oak Island Pier and jumped into the water below. The strong waves swept him from piling to piling, until he finally grasped on to a column covered in razor-sharp barnacles.
Nearby fishermen say they threw a net and some rope down to him, attempting to save him, but the man begged them to leave him there to die.
It was like that for almost 30 minutes, until help arrived.
“I was able to position the boat in such a way that the police officer could speak to the man in the water. And then eventually we were able to talk him into getting into the boat,” says Tony Young, the Oak Island Water Rescue Chief.
The waves were overwhelming, Young recounted, as he weaved through the pilings in an inflatable boat. His team attempted to keep it from overturning as he and an officer called to the man, saying:
“We’re here to help you. There’s a lot of people that care about you. They just want to see you back safe on the beach.”
Young said even though the man was incoherent, they finally were able to pull him out of the water:
“He looked to be pretty cold, by the time we got out there, so it’s a good thing we got out there when we did, because I’m not sure how much longer he could have held on.”
A police officer helped the person into the surf boat and they returned to shore. OIWR says the person was placed into the care of BC EMS paramedics for transport to the hospital.
“The coordination and teamwork between the three Oak Island public safety groups (Police, Fire, and Water Rescue) and County EMS once again functioned excellently to save a life,” OIWR wrote online. “In addition, as with all of our water rescue incidents, BCSO Marine Patrol, NC Marine and Fisheries, and USCG Station Oak Island we’re also alerted to the emergency.”