BRADLEY BEACH — An 18-foot boat was found vacated close to shore along Bradley Beach’s Third Avenue, at about 7 p.m. on Saturday, prompting a response from OEM, Coast Guard and State Police to search for the occupants, who were later found to be in no danger.
According to Chief Leonard Guida of the Bradley Beach Police Department and director of the borough’s Office of Emergency Management [OEM], roughly 90 minutes after its discovery, police successfully contacted the owner of the boat, whom they said had abandoned it without notifying them.
“The boat ran into some engine difficulties out in the ocean. They almost beached it here in Bradley,” said Chief Guida. “They left the boat unattended, and they didn’t report it; then we came upon it and initiated a search for the individuals in the boat. They were subsequently located and everyone on it was fine.”
The boat is currently in possession of the Bradley Beach Police Department and Chief Guida said that the owner would need to reimburse the borough for its removal from the beach.
“They’re going to have to make restitution to the borough and street department who came down to remove it,” the chief said. “They needed a vehicle big enough to pull it off the beach. There will be a reckoning on that as far as the borough is concerned.”
Chief Guida called the owner’s handling of the situation “ridiculous” as first responders could have avoided costly search efforts if the owner had reported the accident, including the mobilization of a Coast Guard helicopter and various borough departments who responded late Saturday night.
“Now we’re sending people out in the middle of the night in the ocean, which wasn’t exactly calm surf at that point. So you’re just putting everybody’s life in danger when you don’t report this. There’s also the impact on the taxpayer to consider; rescue services aren’t cheap,” the chief said.
According to Chief Guida, once the borough is alerted to a possible rescue search, they notify the Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police Marine Unit by phone. If they believe there are individuals in the water, they would also contact the Neptune Township Area Network of Shore Water Emergency Responders [ANSWER] dive team.
“In this case, we notified the state police and Coast Guard,” he said. “We didn’t think it was necessary to notify the ANSWER Rescue team because we didn’t have the information about the boat. The boat was just abandoned at that point. So, we didn’t have any information if somebody was in the water or anything like that. So we didn’t want to put too many people out there in the middle of the night, putting them at risk as well.”
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