A 63-year-old man treaded water in the Atlantic Ocean for about five hours Monday after he was swept out to sea off New York’s Long Island, police said.
Dan Ho was rescued after he built a makeshift flag with a broken fishing pole and his shirt to draw attention to himself.
Ho went swimming at around 5 a.m. and was pulled out to sea by the current, the Suffolk County Police Department said in a statement posted to Facebook. After about five hours of treading water, he found the fishing pole in the water, tied his shirt to it and waved it in the air.
About 2 1/2 miles south of the beach where Ho entered the water, he was spotted by Jim Hohorst and Michael Ross, who were out fishing at the time and told the Newsday newspaper they thought Ho was a lobster buoy when they first saw him.
They pulled Ho on board their boat, and Hohorst, who according to Newsday was a former officer for the New York Fire Department’s marine bureau, called for help on the radio. He estimated the water temperature was about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, Newsday reported.
“He was in shock and pretty incoherent at the time,” Hohorst told the outlet. “We figured he had maybe an hour left. He was very hypothermic and said he had been drinking a lot of salt water.”
According to Hohorst, Ho told Ross, “I thought I was done.”
When police officers met up with the boat, Ho was conscious and alert but couldn’t stand, police said. He was treated for hypothermia on the police boat and taken to a U.S. Coast Guard station.
Ho was treated by a Coast Guard medic and then taken to a hospital, police said.
Last week, three people were rescued from the water off Long Island, CBS New York reported. Police said lifeguards rescued two of the swimmers and a good Samaritan saved the third person.
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