Ferry captain and crew rescue 2 boaters stranded in bay

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A Fire Island Ferry captain and his crew helped rescue two boaters from the Great South Bay Saturday night.

Capt. Victor Klipp says it started out to be a regular Saturday evening shift until the ferry was about a half-mile out, and he spotted a little white light on the bay. As rain crashed down on the dark and choppy waters, Klipp says it was that light in the distance that caught his attention.

"At first I thought it was a boat, but it wasn't on my radar," Klipp recalls. "We were kind of disregarding it for a second and then we heard screams -- 'Help, help, help!'"

Two boaters from Bay Shore had ended up stranded in the water.  One of them was holding a cellphone up over his head as he did his best to stay afloat -- that was the light spotted from the ferry.

The boaters had been ejected from their vessel, which had continued on without them. Klipp says one of the men was clinging to the other as they were stranded in the water.

Klipp and the crew pulled the men to safety. Suffolk police say the boaters refused medical treatment.

"They were thanking me up and down, saying, 'I thought I was gonna die out there,' but I think someone would have come around soon if it wasn't me," Klipp says.

The captain credits the cellphone light for the rescue. "That phone saved that guy's life, it was pretty crazy. It wasn't working when we got back to Bay Shore, when he tried to call his wife," Klipp says.

Klipp was back at work Sunday, and admitted that he hoped the shift would be less eventful than his last one.

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