By Andrew Wroblewski
It didn’t matter that Crab Meadow Beach lifeguard Alex Kiewra had never made a “serious rescue” before Tuesday afternoon. When word came in that three kayakers were stranded more than a mile from shore in the Long Island Sound, he and fellow lifeguard Connor Quinn immediately took action.
“There was absolutely no hesitation,” said the four-year lifeguard. Kiewra and Quinn jumped into the water with their rescue longboards and started swimming.
“They were so far out that, at first, we couldn’t even tell they were people,” Kiewra recalled on Wednesday as he detailed the roughly 1.5-mile swim to the kayakers. “This was my first serious rescue. But we’re trained for this. We know what we’re doing.”
He and Quinn, both of Northport, reached two of the three stranded kayakers and secured them to the longboards, Kiewra said, and started swimming back. The third kayaker, he said, was rescued by Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau officers Paul Carnival and Keith Walters.
“He gave us a thumbs-up [from the rescue boat] and said he was fine” Kiewra said of the third kayaker.
At that point, the four that remained in the water boarded Marine Bravo and the group headed back to shore. The stranded kayakers were identified by police as brothers Michael Fisher, 16, and Matthew Fisher, 20, and 16-year-old Kevin Nobs. They all live in East Northport.
“Hopefully nothing like this happens for a little while,” Kiewra, a 21-year-old Northport resident, said Wednesday in between shifts on the lifeguard. Quinn was enjoying a day off with a trip out to Montauk.
Nobs said they embarked from the Town of Huntington’s Crab Meadow Beach in Fort Salonga at around 11:30 a.m.
When the wind picked up, police said, they were pulled out around 1.5 miles from shore and couldn’t paddle back. Both Nobs and Matthew Fisher ended up in the water, police said, and Michael Fisher phoned 911.
None of the three kayakers sustained injuries, police said, and they all wore flotation devices.
In order to avoid future incidents like this, Kiewra, a communications major at SUNY Cortland, advised: “Always be aware of your surroundings when you’re at the beach. Even if you’re on a device such as a kayak, always know that there’s a chance that it could capsize and you could need help from lifeguards that might take a little while to get to you.”