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May 25, 2011 11:09 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Fog-Stranded Clammer Rescued By Paddleboarder Off Shinnecock Indian Reservation

May 25, 2011 11:53 AM

A clammer who lost his bearings in a thick fog Tuesday morning and became stranded in Old Fort Pond, between Shinnecock Hills and the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, was rescued by a paddleboarder who followed the sound of disembodied yelps for help.

The clammer, whom police identified as Howard Erlwein, 58, of East Quogue, got stuck in the mud, his waist-high waders filling with water, shortly before 9:30 a.m. and became disoriented in the fog, according to officers.

The first call to Southampton Town Police headquarters, which came in at 9:28 a.m. from a worker near the boat ramp on the Shinnecock Hills side of the pond, noted that a clammer was stuck on a channel marker in water that was over his head, police said.

At about that time, Christine Brennan, 41, was returning to her Little Neck Road home right on the water in Shinnecock Hills, after dropping off her two sons, Liam, 10, and Aidan, 7, at Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School in Southampton Village. She was getting ready to tend to her potted flowers in her front yard when she heard a cry for help.

“All of a sudden I heard, ‘Help!’ and I’m, like, ‘What the heck was that?’” she said. Then the cry came again.

Ms. Brennan ran toward shore, which was so foggy that the normally visible reservation was completely obscured, she said.

“I asked, ‘Is someone calling help?’ And then I heard ‘Help!’ again,” she said.

After confirming that the man was in the water, Ms. Brennan, an avid paddleboarder and former lifeguard, grabbed her stand-up paddleboard and headed into the mist, wearing yoga pants, sneakers and a sweatshirt. She found the clammer clinging to a buoy, weighed down by his water-filled waders. The extra weight of the water nearly tipped her board, and he could not remove his waders, Ms. Brennan said, but she managed to tow him toward the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, where two men waded out into waist-deep water to assist in bringing him to shore.

“They knew that terrain well. They knew what was deep, they knew what was shallow,” Ms. Brennan said of the helpers, whose names she did not know.

Once on shore, Mr. Erlwein, cold and shivering, was somewhat disoriented, asking where he was and what time it was. It was 10:15 a.m. and he had gone out to clam at about 8:30 a.m., Ms. Brennan reported.

Police said Mr. Erlwein declined medical treatment.

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Great job, Miss Brennan! The fog the past week or so has been terrible; I can't believe how many people got lost and had to call the police while just taking a walk on an ocean beach.
By YesYesBub (58), East Hampton on May 25, 11 11:43 AM
The clammer was my brother. Thanks Ms. Brennan and all the other people that assisted him !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on May 25, 11 11:44 AM
He's quite lucky he didn't step into deeper water. I'm not a subscriber and can't read the full story but best wishes to your brother.. I hope the cold water didn't catch up to him too much.
By YesYesBub (58), East Hampton on May 25, 11 11:50 AM
He was in deeper water. It was over his head. The article is incorrect saying he was stuck in the mud.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on May 25, 11 3:15 PM
He was clamming in water over his head?

He needs a clamalert.

"Help, I'm clamming and I can't get out"

Seriously though...huzzah to the paddleboarder
By C Law (350), Water Mill on May 25, 11 7:26 PM
Way to go Ms. Brennan!
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on May 25, 11 11:56 AM
They don't make clammers they way they used to!

Glad he's safe, but he's gonna have a tough time living this one down!
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on May 25, 11 12:23 PM
I know. They don't make them as tough as my brother. Most people wouldn't have made it. It takes a lot to kill an Erlwein .
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on May 25, 11 3:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
... maybe if the shellfish were not tainted by a toxin and fishing shut down - he could have been clamming right outside the creek where he lives in East Quogue?
By William Rodney (558), southampton on May 25, 11 2:15 PM
yeah maybe- but probably not i know howard and i always see him clamming in old fort. if you're trying to make a point forget about "maybe if" (maybe if clams cound fly he wouldn't have had to go in the water in the first place) and try this-- no matter how experienced you are you can easily find yourself in trouble around the water,and howards been on the water all his life. everybody can learn from this near tragedy, but unfortunately most wont. stay safe howard
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on May 25, 11 7:54 PM
Way to go Christine:)
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on May 25, 11 6:46 PM