YOUNGSTOWN, NY - Multiple police and rescue agencies responded to a call of a capsized boat in Lake Ontario Saturday afternoon. The U.S. Coast Guard received word from the Niagara County 911 dispatcher around 3:30 p.m. that three men were clinging to a capsized boat, described as a 19-foot pleasure boat, about three nautical miles offshore from Four Mile Creek State Park, near Fort Niagara.
A U.S. Coast Guard rescue craft from the Niagara Station in Youngstown found the capsized boat about half-an-hour later, said Petty Officer James Bordelleau, who is the search and rescue coordinator for Coast Guard Sector Buffalo. The three men were in the water for close to an hour.
"Our crew responded very well, there's some ice out there, and they were able to maneuver around it and get to the people safely," said Bordelleau.
The boaters were in contact with rescuers by cellphone during the rescue operation, and a GPS unit they had helped searchers find their boat. And time was of the essence: the frigid water was just 37 degrees.
All three were taken to Mount St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston for treatment and released, according to a hospital spokesperson.
Customs and Border Patrol, the Canadian Coast Guard ship Cape Storm and Joint Rescue Coordination Center Trenton, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office and the Lewiston Fire Department also responded to the emergency call.
Mercy Flight was placed on standby and arrived at the scene as the men were being removed from the Coast Guard boat, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office said.
"The air is warm enough for boating season, but water temperatures are still dangerously cold," said Petty Officer Second Class Craig Deats-Cascio, officer-of-the-day at Station Niagara. "These three men are lucky to be alive thanks to the hard work and cooperation between the Coast Guard and our partner agencies."
Conditions on Lake Ontario were choppy Saturday, with swells of four to five feet reported. The National Weather Service has issued a small craft advisory for Sunday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Winds up to 30 knots are expected out of the south and southwest, producing waves from two to four feet.
The sheriff's department tell us two of the men, both 51 years old, are from Wellsville. The third man is 61 from Andover. Both towns are in Allegany County.