A 63-year-old New York man treaded water for five hours and made a makeshift flag using his shirt and a broken fishing pole before being rescued in the Atlantic Ocean this week, authorities say.
Dan Ho was found two and a half miles off Cedar Beach in Babylon on Long Island Monday, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. Police say the Copiague man went swimming around 5 a.m. yesterday when he was “pulled out by the current into open water.”
“After treading water with no flotation for approximately five hours, Ho found a broken fishing pole in the water, tied his shirt to it and waved the shirt in the air in an attempt to notify passing vessels of his presence,” police said.
The effort paid off as investigators said Ho was spotted by Jim Hohorst of West Islip and Michael Ross of Syosset.
“Hohorst and Ross pulled Ho onto [their] boat and Hohorst made a call over VHF radio,” Suffolk Police said. “Marine Juliet, operated by Officer Robert Jenkins and Officer Bernadette Benjamin, responded to the call and met the civilian boat and transferred Ho, who was conscious and alert but unable to stand, aboard and rendered aid for hypothermia.”
Ho eventually received treatment by a medic at a U.S. Coast Guard station on Fire Island before being taken to a hospital in West Islip.
“He was just treading water, praying some boat would come by,” Ross told WABC. “I can tell you, no boats in the area, not for miles.”
“He was blue, [his] body gray,” Ross added. “He was shaking, totally hyperthermic. [We] wrapped him in towels.”
Ho told the local station that he and Hohorst were in the area where Ho was found because they were fishing for striped bass.
Hohorst, whom Newsday identified as a former New York City Fire Department Marine Bureau officer, described Ho as being “in shock and pretty incoherent at the time.”
“We figured he had maybe an hour left,” he told the newspaper. “He was very hypothermic and said he had been drinking a lot of salt water.”