New York man swept out to sea treads water for 5 hours before rescue

After treading water for 5 hours, the man used a broken fishing pole and his shirt to make a flag and wave for help.

BABYLON, New York – A 63-year-old man from Long Island, New York, was rescued Monday after treading water for five hours and making a makeshift flag using his shirt and a broken fishing pole to flag down rescuers, reports FOX 5 New York

Dan Ho of Copiague was found two and a half miles off Cedar Beach in Babylon, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. 

Police say the man went swimming around 5 a.m. yesterday when he was "pulled out by the current into open water." 

"After treading water with no flotation for approximately five hours, Ho found a broken fishing pole in the water, tied his shirt to it, and waved the shirt in the air in an attempt to notify passing vessels of his presence," police said

The effort paid off as investigators said Jim Hohorst of West Islip and Michael Ross of Syosset spotted Ho. 


"Hohorst and Ross pulled Ho onto [their] boat, and Hohorst made a call over VHF radio," Suffolk Police said. "Marine Juliet, operated by Officer Robert Jenkins and Officer Bernadette Benjamin, responded to the call and met the civilian boat and transferred Ho, who was conscious and alert but unable to stand, aboard and rendered aid for hypothermia." 

Within minutes, the Suffolk County Police Department's marine unit arrived and transferred Ho onto their boat, where he was treated for hypothermia. Ho was then taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip.

Hohorst, whom Newsday identified as a former New York City Fire Department Marine Bureau officer, described Ho as being "in shock and pretty incoherent at the time." 

"We figured he had maybe an hour left," he told the newspaper. "He was very hypothermic and said he had been drinking a lot of salt water." 

According to the National Weather Service surf forecast, the rip current risk was low for Suffolk County beaches on Monday and through Wednesday. However, life-threatening rip currents are always possible near jetties, reefs, piers and groins.