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Good Samaritans, First Responders Rescue Kayaker From Chilly Bay Waters

Route 37, Thomas A. Mathis and J. Stanley Tunney Bridges. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Route 37, Thomas A. Mathis and J. Stanley Tunney Bridges. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A pair of Good Samaritans and numerous local first responders were able to rescue a kayaker who found himself in the chilly waters of Barnegat Bay after their kayak overturned under the Route 37 bridge Friday.

According to Toms River Police spokeswoman Jillian Messina, dispatchers received a 911 call at 3:16 p.m. Friday reporting a boater in distress under the Tunney bridge, which carries the highway’s traffic westbound from Seaside Heights to Toms River over the bay.

Two contractors working on a bridge maintenance project, Randolph Fuson and Charles Baldwin, of the civil construction firm IEW, were performing work on bridge when they noticed an overturned kayak and looked to see if anyone was near.

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“They heard someone yelling for help and provided a life vest and life ring to the individual, holding the rope to keep him in sight until additional help arrived,” Messina said.

Officers arrived shortly, as members of the Seaside Heights Fire and Police departments who responded by boat to pull the victim from the water. He was taken to Community Medical Center for treatment.

Also assisting at the scene was East Dover Fire, Ocean Beach Fire, Silverton Fire, and the New Jersey State Police Marine Division.

“We’d like to commend Mr. Fuson and Mr. Baldwin for their vigilance and quick thinking!” Messina said.

The incident remains under investigation by Toms River Officer Michael Hader.

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