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Cape Gazette
Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
March 24, 2000     Cape Gazette
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March 24, 2000
 

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" I0 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, March 24 - March 30, 2000 ................................... Coast Guard plucks men from stormy seas in dramatic rescue By Rosanne Pack As the battered dredge Diamond State was towed from Broadkill Beach Thursday, the sunny skies and relatively calm seas belied the serious role it played in a storm-driven drama that could have cost three state workers their lives in a March 21 nor'easter. The Division of Soil and Water workers came to be stranded on the disabled and sinking dredging vessel at the height of a storm of unexpected intensity when they went aboard for a pumping opera- tion. Efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard led to William Daisey, Orlando King and Gerald Wingate being snatched from the roof of the pilot house of the dredge before they were swept away by the sea. "It was an end of the world scene," said John Hughes, direc- tor of the Division of Soil and Water. "We went from trying to save the dredge to trying to save the men. "We are extremely grate- ful to the Coast Guard. They did a magnificent job of rescuing our men who were in serious danger." The rescue operation itself was not lacking in danger as Coast Guard officers had to maneuver a helicopter under a very low ceil- ing in order to see and attempt to secure the men in a rescue basket. Even the two men who were indi- vidually lifted in the basket could not be deposited on a nearby launch. Hughes said the seas were so rough and wind gusts so erratic that there was a danger of the men being crushed if they tried to drop them on the launch. Wingate and King were low- ered into the surf about 30 feet off shore where they were assisted to shore by Coast Guard rescue swimmer AST2 Jeff Danner. In picking up King, the basket was so severely damaged that Daisey could not remain in it. As winds gusted to 65 and 70 mph, one of the crewmen was winched down to the dredge to secure the remaining DNREC employee in a harness; the two were then winched up to the hovering heli- copter. Hughes said the drama began at about 2:30 p.m. when his Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) office was notified that the state-owned dredge had bro- ken a bow anchor line and swung stern to wind, allowing it to take on water. With winds forecast at 25 to 30 mph, state officials decided earlier in the day that the Diamond State could remain at anchor. Upon learning of the ves- sel's predicament, Hughes char- tered a launch and sent Daisey, King and Wingate out with equip- ment to pump it out. As a key component in a beach replenishment project, the $1.5 million dredge has been anchored off Broadkill for several months. Daisy is the DNREC field opera- tion chief on the project; King the dredge operator and Wingate a marine mechanic. Once the men were aboard, they found the pumps they brought were not powerful enough and the launch was dis- patched for additional equipment. "In the time it took the launch to return, the winds went from 25 to 30, then to 40 and through to 50," Hughes said. "Later, the charts show 70 mph. The launch couldn't pull up to the dredge in those winds; it could have crushed our men." The Coast Guard was contacted Meeting to discuss open space options for UD land in Lewes By Dennis Forney Representatives John Schroeder (D-Lewes) and Dave Ennis (R- Fox Hall) who owns property in Lewes, have scheduled a meeting to discuss a possible open space future for lands currently or for- merly owned by the University of Delaware in Lewes. The meeting will be held in Legislative Hall in Dover on Thursday, March 30. The lands in question are part of parcels that have long been asso- ciated with a marine research park initiative that has never come to fruition. The lands lie west of New Road on the outskirts of Lewes and are bounded by Ca- nary Creek to the south and the Great Marsh to the west. Totaling nearly 200 acres, the lands are the center of controversy in Lewes over proposed develop- ment. One tract is 75 acres that were sold by University of Delaware 18 months ago to Beebe Medical Center. Beebe Medical Center had the land rezoned from University District to Community Facilities Distrit:t in anticipation of possible development of an as- sisted living facility. Beebe's plans have since changed and they have contracted to sell the land to Cadbury of Lewes. Cadbury has proposed con- struction of a continuing care re- tirement community on the land and has applied to Lewes for a zoning change that would allow such a facility. Lewes Mayor and Council have scheduled a work- shop meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, to discuss the Cadbury proposal. The meet- ing, open to the public, will be held in the upstairs meeting room of Lewes Public Library on Adams Avenue. The other tract of land is adja- cent to and north of the Beebe land and has been proposed for development as an active adult re- tirement community by New Road L.L.C. A division of Blenheim Homes, New Road Continued on page 14 and the helicopter and crew left Atlantic City, N.J., shortly before 8 p.m., arriving at the Diamond State, approximately I/4 mile off Broadkill, at about 9:25 p.m. On the beach at Broadkill, sev- eral people became aware of the developing drama off shore. Howie Reed, year 'round resi- dent, said lights from the helicop- ter became visible off shore. "There were lights all over," Reed said. "The wind and the rain were so intense, we didn't know how the helicopter pilot could maneuver; he was just amazing. "Several of us went out on the beach to be there to help. You could not look into the weather, the wind was so strong the rain was like ice hitting your face." Reed said they could not tell what the helicopter was doing because of poor visibility, but Hughes was notified that two men were pulled from the dredge and lbut ashore. "We knew that there were two people on the beach, but we couldn't find them and we didn't know what condition they were in," he said. "Some of us got cars and went on the beach to locate them, but we couldn't go far because of high tide. "Finally, one car flashed its lights so we knew they had them. I can't say enough about the Coast Guard; they deserve all the cred- it." Hughes agrees, and said that Bob Bowden photo Waves crash against the ocean outfall construction site at the end of Rehoboth Avenue Wednesday at high tide. he will see that the four crew members receive proper recogni- tion. Cdr. Jeff Griffin, operations officer of Coast Guard Group Air Station Atlantic City, said, "Our crew was extremely professional in completing a difficult mission successfully. It was a challenging evolution of a storm situation. "This was not the roughest of nor'easters, but it did pick up in an unpredicted manner. But, when they launched from here, they knew the conditions." None of the men who were res- cued were injured; all went home that night. Griffin said that the helicopter crew flew straight to Dover Air Force Base once Daisey was pulled aboard rather than attempt another placement on the beach. "We had them remain in Dover Tuesday night," he said. "If there had been another rescue situation, they could have done it, but there was no need to have them fly back in those conditions." The helicopter was piloted by Lt. Pete Mingo with Lt. Dave Cooper as co-pilot and AMT3 Manuel Bravo as flight mechanic. Daisey was unavailable for comment Thursday because he was busy with the salvage opera- tion of the Diamond State. Hughes said it is too soon to know what repairs are needed or if any fuel spilled at Broadkill. The proj- ect was approximately half fin- ished before the March 21 inci- dent. We'll not only help you find a home, we'll help you protect it. When you come to Prudential for help with real estate brokerage services, you get the advantages of working with one of the world's most recognized organizations. Then our network of Prudential agents can help you insure your home or your person- al property through Prudential. Prudential can also help you insure your life. And we offer help with insurance for business needs, retirement funding and estate conservation. Call today, and we'll put it together for you. 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