NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — It was a close call for one fisherman after he was rescued from the waters off Hazard Rock over the weekend.
Oliver Spencer was fishing with his friend around 6:30 a.m. Saturday, when he saw the man fishing out on the rocks. Spencer said he yelled to the man, attempting to tell him it was unsafe to be so far out, but it was too late. Spencer said the fisherman was swept off the rocks by a wave and into the ocean.
“He was trying to keep his head up, but his waders were filling with water,” Spencer recalled.
Spencer dialed 911 to alert authorities of the situation.
“I told them, ‘A man just got swept into the ocean and no one can help him right now,'” he said. “But we figured by the time paramedics came, there was no way they were going to save him. The waves were crashing so bad.”
Oliver said he was relieved when he saw a boat heading toward the rocks.
“We saw a boat coming by, and we were jumping up and down, screaming at the boat… pointing and waving at him… and that boat came, and just before the man went under he [the boater] grabbed him,” Spencer said.
Video Spencer sent to Eyewitness News shows the boater trying to rescue the fisherman from the water in the heavy surf. Spencer said the boater struggled to pull the man out of the water because his waders, which were full of water, were weighing him down.
Spencer said the 911 dispatcher told him the man should be transported to State Pier #5, also known as Monahan’s Dock, once he was rescued from the water.
“We yelled at the guys on the cliff to yell to the boat driver to send the man to Monahan’s Dock,” Spencer said. “Once they got him on the boat, they were grateful and happy. Everyone was cheering.”
Narragansett Fire Chief Scott Partington said once the man was brought to Monahan’s Dock, he was transported to the Narragansett Fire Department to be treated for exhaustion and hypothermia. He was then brought to South County Hospital for further treatment and was ultimately released.
Spencer said while this story had a happy ending, he knows the outcome could have been much worse.
“We were trying to hold back tears, because if this guy was going to drown, we were going to witness it,” Spencer said.
He also said it is important for fishermen to put safety first when heading out on the rocks.
“Just because you have the gear, it doesn’t protect you all the time because a wave has more power than you do,” Spencer explained. “Be safe, that’s all it’s about. It’s a fish. It’s not worth your life, and he almost paid for it.”