A Montauk fisherman who saw the 44-foot cabin cruiser crash into the jetty last night recalled the harrowing moments before the accident and the scramble to get the passengers off with the boat teetering on the rocks.
Terry Wallace was waiting in the public parking lot by Gosman's for his son, Travis, who works aboard the Viking Superstar ferry, which was making its final return trip of the day from Block Island. When the ferry was about a mile outside the inlet, the cabin cruiser, which was also approaching from the east, crossed in front of the ferry, in its path, Mr. Wallace said.
The cabin cruiser ran past both of the inlet jetties and then, without apparently slowing down, tried to make a u-turn to correct the error.
"He just made a hard left, he never slowed down—I don't understand it, that inlet is not that hard to get in and out of," said Mr. Wallace, a commercial fisherman who captains his own 55-foot boat, Night Moves. "He told the Coast Guard he was going 15 knots but, no way, he was going a lot faster than that."
When the boat hit the jetty it came to rest almost completely out of the water on the rocks, and Mr. Wallace said it looked as if it was going to roll over on its side and wind up upside down in the water. He dashed out onto the jetty with another man who had also been nearby, thinking they might have to dive in to help people get out of a submerged cabin.
Instead, they found the two recreational boaters, shaken but physically unhurt and able to move about the boat. The female passenger had donned a life jacket and when Marine Patrol and Coast Guard officers arrived moments later, the two witnesses helped the woman off the boat and onto the jetty.
"She was panicking, and I guess you can't blame her, but she was okay," Mr. Wallace said. "He was really lucky they didn't roll over. He was really lucky. And he knows it too."
The U.S. Coast Guard and East Hampton Town Marine Patrol officers rescued two people from their boat after it struck the western jetty of the Montauk Harbor inlet at about 9:30 on Thursday night.
The boat, a 44-foot cabin cruiser, rested on the rocks through the night but was lifted off early Friday morning by the high tide and sank to the bottom a few feet from the jetty, with just its flying bridge protruding from the water.
"Some of our guys were on our pier and actually heard them hit the rocks," Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan O'Hare said on Friday morning at the Coast Guard station in Montauk, just a few hundred yards from the scene of the crash.
Coast Guardsmen and Marine Patrol raced to the jetty by boat and helped two people, one man and one woman, off the boat. They were unhurt.
Officer O'Hare said that the boat had been going about 15 knots when it hit. He said the couple had left Patchogue by boat earlier in the day and were coming into Montauk from the north. The man who had been operating the boat had misjudged the inlet and passed it to the west and was trying to reverse course to go back to the inlet mouth when the boat struck the jetty.
Salvage crews from SeaTow marine towing service were on the scene on Friday morning.