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Two Rescued After Boat Hits Rock Off Scarborough

SCARBOROUGH, N.Y. – Water began entering into a Poughkeepsie couple's sailboat on Thursday after they hit a large rock in the Hudson River in Scarborough, county marine officials said.

Leathem Mehaffey, 61, made a distress call to the county police marine unit at 11:54 a.m. reporting that his 28-food Pierson sailing vessel was tipping hard to the port side and in danger of capsizing, according to police spokesperson Kieran O'Leary. Mehaffey's wife Ann, 60, was also on board.

Detective C.J. Westbrook and police officer Michael Knapp took Marine 3, a 31-foot rescue boat, out on the Hudson to rescue the couple, O'Leary said. The Mehaffeys were not injured and were returned to shore by Marine 3. Their sailboat was secured by Sea-Tow and taken to the Westerly Marina in Ossining.

The area where the Mehaffeys were in distress was about nine feet deep, O'Leary said.

The Mehaffey's rescue was the third of the week for the county Marine Unit, marine officials said.

On Wednesday at about 6:30 p.m. a Bronx man and his son capsized a 15-foot sailboat off Croton-on-Hudson. Marine Unit rescuers brought Michael Purcell, 41, and his 10-year-old son out of the water, righted their sailboat and escorted them to shore.

The Croton Volunteer Ambulance Corps responded to the scene, but the Johnsons declined medical attention, O'Leary said.

On Tuesday at around 4 p.m., a Cortlandt mother called police to report that her 14-year-old daughter and a friend had gone out sailing on the Hudson and failed to return at 2 p.m. as expected. The Marine Unit searched the waters off Cortlandt and located the two teens who were having difficulty getting back to shore due to choppy waters and brisk winds.

The two teens were taken aboard Marine 3 and county police towed the sailboat back to the Viking Marina in Verplanck.

"All of these incidents had the potential to be much worse except for the prompt response by the Marine Unit," county Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth said. "The unit's presence on the Hudson ensures the safety of all who are enjoying being out on the river."

In 2010, the Marine Unit assisted 59 vessels in distress, including rescuing boaters who were in the water because their vessels had capsized, caught fire, or were sinking.

In addition to ensuring boating safety, the Marine Unit also enforces Boating While Intoxicated laws and plays a role in protecting the Tappan Zee Bridge, the Indian Point nuclear power plants and other critical waterfront infrastructure from terrorism.

During marine rescues, the county police Aviation Unit also responds by monitoring rescues from the air.

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