Manasquan Inlet Surfers Rescue Fishermen in Hurricane Surf September 1999

Manasquan Inlet Rescue Photos and Pictures
by John Cocozza Photography

Photojournalist in San Diego, California

September 23, 1999 – Hurricane Floyd brought some great surf to the Jersey Shore. On this day the swell was 4-6 foot so that means the faces were anywhere from 8 to 12 feet high on the front of the wave. All the Manasquan Inlet surfing locals were out enjoying the day. The Coastguard had issued a small craft advisory due to the large surf, but 2 Haitian fishermen decided to venture into the rough ocean anyways. As they came around the north side of the Manasquan Inlet jetty their boat engine stalled and they began to drift closer to shore. Experienced surfers in the water recognized the small boat was drifting within the break zone and was at risk of getting swamped or hit by the large waves.

A big set started to form on the horizon and the surfers began to yell and scream at the boat to prepare to get hit. The waves pounded the tiny boat and capsized it. Surfers such as Jack Meyer and Mike Brown were immediately paddling over to help the fishermen who did not have any life jackets on. One of the fisherman came up holding onto the prop of the boat. Surfers in the water, bystanders on the beach and jetty, and lifeguards all knew this was going to be an extremely dangerous rescue. The large surf and a heavy river-like rip current
were bad enough. Everyone in the water was in danger also from a 24 foot capsized boat barreling through the lineup without direction. A rescuer could be struck by the boat and knocked out. At this point lifeguards radio dispatched to the Coast Guard station for assistance.

Manasquan Lifeguards and Fire Rescue began to swim tow lines out to the pack of surfers who were safeguarding the exhausted fishermen and keeping them afloat with their surfboards. The rescue proceeded to take an immense amount of time due to the rip current flowing so strong that when the rescue team approached the beach they were swept back out to sea two times. Eventually the exhausted surfers and lifeguards were pulled to shore safely by dozens of rescuers on the beach pulling them back. Both fishermen survived and were treated at local hospitals for their injuries. Surfers like Scott Duerr, Mike Brown, Jack Meyer, Griffin Baldino and others as well as the lifeguards and rescue teams were the heroes of the day.

Do you need a professional photojournalist for your newspaper, magazine, or media company? John Cocozza Photography has been photographing news worthy events for over 10 years professionally. Currently John Cocozza is based out of San Diego, California. For list of his credentials please visit our “About” page or for photo package rates please visit our “Photo Services” page. Or feel free to “Contact Us” directly.

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