ROWERS RESCUED AFTER SQUALL FLIPS SHELLS

rowing-3-050310One of two shells manned by teen rowers arrives at a residential dock on Fisher Place after flipping in the Navesink. Below, a distraught woman, said to be a coach, recounts the incident for police. (Click to enlarge)

rowing-1-0503101A sudden wind storm that blew through the Red Bank area turned into an ordeal for eight teenaged rowers as two shells flipped in the Navesink River late Tuesday afternoon.

All the rowers, said to be female members of the Ranney School‘s crewing club, were plucked from the water safely, though all were taken by ambulance to Riverview Medical Center for checkups.

“They were all cold and wet,” said Captain Darren McConnell, spokesman for the Red Bank Police Department. He said the girls were roughly 15 years old.

rowing2-050310Rowers from one of the shells arriving on land after their rescue from the choppy river. (Click to enlarge)

McConnell said the two shells, as well as a motorized boat piloted by a coach, had launched from the Monmouth Boat Club in Red Bank. redbankgreen was unable to confirm this with MBC, and could not reach officials at Navesink River Rowing, whose name appeared on the motorboat.

According to Pat McGeehan, who witnessed the incident, a sudden squall turned the river choppy and one of the shells overturned near mid-river directly opposite his dock, at the end of Fisher Place.

“We were looking at it, and all of a sudden, we saw the bottom of the boat,” he told redbankgreen. As McGeehan’s wife called 911, the second shell, farther east, just over the Fair Haven line, also flipped.

McGeehan said rescue personnel, including members of the First Aid Squad’s dive team, arrived at his house in less than five minutes. Meantime, according to McConnell, Irwin Marine dispatched a boat to the scene.

“A combined effort” involving the boat club instructor and others on the scene resulted in all rowers quickly being accounted for and pull from the water, McConnell said.

One of the shells was brought in under the power of the boat club vessel with four rowers aboard, landing at McGeehan’s dock. The other was said by police on the scene to have blown into a dock of a Fair Haven residence after the girls were picked up by another vessel.

A report of a third shell caught in the squall still farther east of the accident turned out to be mistaken, McConnell said.

Representatives of the Ranney School, in Tinton Falls, and the boat club could not be reached for immediate comment.

McConnell said the wind knocked down trees and power lines around town, causing brief outages, and brought a tree down on a car on South Street. No injuries were reported.