Smith Point Sea Rescue performs ‘miracle’ mission

From left are Buddy Sylvia, Mike Romey, Steve Bowen and Robert Gwaltney. The crew of four successfully completed a challenging rescue after dark and under treacherous conditions.

REEDVILLE—Just after 8 p.m. on Monday, July 29, the Northumberland County Sheriff’s office received a 911 call from a panicked man who reported he was on a boat and the captain/owner had fallen overboard and vanished.

He told the dispatcher he had no idea where he was or how to operate the boat. The dispatcher called Smith Point Sea Rescue and provided the man’s cell number, reported Jim Bullard, vice president.

Senior boat captain Buddy Sylvia called the man and asked, “Can you read me the latitude and longitude off the boat’s GPS?” The man did not understand. “Can you see land?” “No!” “Can you see anything?” “I think I saw a lighthouse.” “Is it Smith Point Light?” “Maybe, but please help me!”

Rescue 1 was immediately dispatched from Reedville with a crew of four and headed to Smith Point Light as darkness fell. At the lighthouse, the crew turned on search lights and began looking for the boat on their radar with no success. The wind was blowing 15-20 mph, waves were 5-7 feet high and they were now…