Water rescue at Lock 2 at Long Level boat launch

Emergency personnel on a Lake Clarke Water Rescue boat, at left, help secure a boat which nearly sank on the Susquehanna River Sunday. Eight people were rescued from the boat.

Fifteen people were rescued from boats and a Jet Ski in distress due to wind-driven rough water on the Susquehanna River Sunday, a rescue official said.

Four adults and four children called 911 for help when their 20-foot fishing boat was sinking around 11:15 a.m., said Christ Ditzler, chief of Blue Rock Fire Rescue’s West station.

It was near the Lancaster County shore, about a half mile to a mile north of the Safe Harbor Dam. It was south of the Long Level Marina in York County.

Ditzler blamed high winds for the trouble.

“Because of rough water conditions, water was coming in over the bow of the boat faster than a pump could pump it out,” he said. “The vessel was half full of water. They did not have much time.”

A U.S. Coast Guard boat stationed at the Long Level Marina patrols the river most summer weekends, Ditzler said. It reached the distressed boat at around 11:30 a.m., rescued the eight occupants and prevented the boat from sinking.

Four children were helped into a private boat that took them safely to the York County shore, Ditzler said. Four adults were helped into the Coast Guard vessel and also taken to the York County shore. All eight people from the boat wore life jackets, but they could have been swept away from the sinking boat had they gone into the water.

They likely would have been pushed to a shore along a curve in the river before reaching the dam had they gone into the water, he said.

A Lake Clarke Water Rescue boat towed in the boat that had been taking on water.

At 12:15 p.m., a Jet Ski got stuck in sand on the York County side of the river near Fishing Creek, about a mile and a half south of Long Level Marina, Ditzler said. Rescuers picked up two adults and a child and towed in the Jet Ski.

At 1 p.m., a boat with four occupants had a motor malfunction in front of the Long Level Marina, Ditzler said. A private boater quickly reached it and towed it to safety.

Other rescue boats had a harder time.

“With the wind blowing south, it was making it hard to bring boats back north” after the rescues, Ditzler said. “Boats were motoring without moving. High winds and boating don’t mix.” They were able to continue north when the wind calmed down for a short period.

By 1:20 p.m., all the rescue boats had returned safely to shore. None of the 15 people rescued or the many rescue personnel was injured, Ditzler said.

Wind also caused problems on land Sunday.

High wind pushed tree limbs onto electric lines and cut power to 1,926 people in Manheim Borough and Penn Township at around 10:45 a.m., PPL spokeswoman Carol Obando-Derstine said.

Traffic control personnel directed motorists at intersections along Main, Charlotte and High streets in Manheim, and Doe Run Road in Penn Township, due to signals not working, a county dispatch supervisor said.

Power was restored by noon.

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