Capsized boaters survive of NJ shore

POINT PLEASANT, N.J. - November 8, 2010

They were able to hang on to the one thing that helped save them all.

There were some dramatic pictures captured Saturday morning in the ocean about a mile off Point Pleasant, New Jersey, as the Coast Guard rescued 4 men after their 17-foot pleasure craft capsized in 5 foot seas.

"In the process of trying to turn around," said Joe Czimcharo, "we took another wave and once the boat got swamped there was no saving it."

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When it finally flipped over, Joe Czimcharo of Brick used his portable marine radio to make the mayday call:

"The boat is under us! Capsized. Help..."

"How many people do you have in the water?"

"Four people. We're all on the bottom of the boat right now holding on."

"Especially in water like this, wind, there's heavy chop so they're taking spray in their faces and stuff," said P.O. Anthony Nenni of the U.S. Coast Guard. "It wasn't ideal conditions for a boat of that size to be out."

A 47-foot lifeboat was launched immediately out of the Point Pleasant station and reached the capsized boat within minutes.

The boaters had been in the water for about 10 minutes with life jackets but not wetsuits. The ocean was 58 degrees and hypothermia was staring to set in. Steve Gallo was suffering the most and hauled in first.

"Teeth were chattering, his fingers were turning blue, loss of sensation in his hands and feet," said P.O. Nick Gera of the U.S. Coast Guard.

"Went down below to treat for initial first aid and shock, basically get the victims out of their wet clothes and start warming them up," added P.O. Jason McDonnell of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Everyone turned out to be fine. However, Joe's boat was lost. But he has nothing but praise for the Coast Guard crew that plucked him and his friend from the water.

"The Coast guard was absolutely fantastic," Czimcharo said. "I can't say enough good things about them."

Joe says he's learned a hard lesson about taking small craft advisories more seriously.

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