Off-duty Coast Guard member saves 2 swimmers off Fire Island

Posted: Updated:
NORTHPORT -

An off-duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard is credited with saving two swimmers off Fire Island.

Petty Officer Victoria Vanderhaden works out of Station Eatons Neck in Northport. On Tuesday night, her day off, she was walking along the Fire Island beach when she noticed two people in the water.

"I looked around and saw there was no lifeguard on duty, so I knew of knew what I had to do," she says.

With 25 mph winds and 4- to 6-foot-high waves, she went to help the two men struggling in the water.

Vanderhaden says she does those sorts of rescues all the time on duty, but this is the first time she says she's saved people off duty, all alone and without her boat crew.

She eventually reached the men and told them to calm down and breathe. They made it back to land after 30 minutes of swimming.

EMS, police and park rangers were on scene when they got to shore and checked everyone out.

The Coast Guard reminds anyone who might get caught in a rip current to always swim parallel to the shore, to be on the lookout for posted warning signs and to never swim without a lifeguard present.

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