WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – A man who fell off his boat 37 miles offshore from Wrightsville Beach early Monday afternoon did not have his engine cut-off switch (ECOS), also known as a “kill switch” attached. His boat took off, leaving him stranded in the water.
The 47-year-old male fell overboard around 12:15 p.m. and was treading water for about an hour before he was found and rescued by a couple of Good Samaritans, according to Captain Ryan Saporito with Sea Tow. He was not wearing a life jacket.
Sea Tow and the Coast Guard were alerted at 1 p.m. that a man was in the water offshore and that he had been located by a father and son on a fishing trip.
According to the Coast Guard, the father and son were fishing when they were almost hit by another boat. When they realized the boat had no driver, they followed it and were able to stop and board the boat, a 23-foot Parker. They used the GPS track line search to retrace the boat’s path and found the driver treading water.
“If you’re going to be offshore by yourself you should definitely be wearing your kill switch, you know, for this exact reason,” said Scott Collins, Senior Staff Captain with Sea Tow Wrightsville Beach. “Going offshore by yourself is dangerous. That’s why it’s even more important to have that kill switch on.”
The driver did not require medical attention. He and his boat were returned safely to the launch at Masonboro inlet.
“The new rules don’t specify that you have to have the kill switch on you if you’re in a no-wake speed, which is fine and dandy if you’re offshore and you fall off your boat there, I mean, it’s a little bit safer if you’re by yourself offshore and you fall off your boat just like in this circumstance,” said Collins.
According to the Coast Guard, as of April 1, drivers of all boats under 26-feet are required to wear an ECOS.
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