Friday, June 29, 2012

A case 25 years ago!

Thomas J. Morgan of Providence Journal reported this historical case of "25 years ago today":
A rogue wave is to blame for the mishap aboard the Super Squirrel II earlier this month when 25 pupils and teachers from the Wickford Middle School were injured, the Coast Guard says. The Super Squirrel II dropped into a deep trough. One boy was rescued after he was tossed overboard.
A further Google search led to this June 9, 1987 Boston Globe excerpt with some further details:

A freak 15 - foot wave struck a whale-watching boat off the Rhode Island coast yesterday, washing a 14-year-old North Kingstown boy into the ocean and injuring 30 other students and a teacher, Coast Guard officials said.
The 104-foot Super Squirrel II was carrying about 115 seventh- and eighth- grade students and nine teachers from Wickford Middle School when the wave struck about 10:30 a.m. one mile southeast of Southeast Light on Block Island, Monica Hull-Shea, a New Shoreham, R.I., police dispatcher said.
Crew member Gary Dyer, a Coast Guard reservist, jumped into the water and pulled the boy out of the 55-degree waters, said Christopher Warner, a fireman …
Well, 25 years ago rogue or freaque waves were not household words yet, but Boston Globe did used the "freak" word then nevertheless.  Mr. Morgan's write-up provided a piece of important information: "The Super Squirrel II dropped into a deep trough" which don't usually being reported.  A 15 ft wave is certainly not a minor one.  So this is a truly freaque wave case which is likely not to be in anyone's record book. But it is a real freaque wave case that should be duly recorded.  The best part, of course, is that it happened and everyone is safe especially the 14 year old boy -- thanks to the brave crew member who jumped into the water to have pulled the boy out of the 55 degree waters.  

Mr. Gary Dyer, where ever you are now, we salute you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was on the Super Squirrel II when we hit that wave. We had many injured students. Several broken legs, one student who broke both legs, a couple broken arms and several head impacts. The student who went overboard was an exceptionally weak swimmer who consistently didn't pass deep-end swim tests (he was a good friend of mine). The first few minutes after that wave hit, and the boat dropped several stories down into the trough, were like a bomb went off. There was screaming, crying, sudden silence as the engines were cut, crew members shouting and rescuing the boy overboard, bewildered students stumbling out of the galley to the railings.

I was in the galley area when the wave hit. I was seated next to some friends on a bench seat. I was lifted off my seat, nearly to the ceiling, and then slammed back onto the tabletop as we crashed into the wave trough bottom.

We were out in the Block Island Sound, and had no immediate access to medical facilities. We were more than an hour out at the speeds that had been slamming the boat on 8 foot wave. There was no way we could travel rapidly back to port with 20+ students injured, as the boat would have been repeatedly slamming up and down in those waves. We idled back into Block Island itself, and a small plane taxi ferried injured students to the mainland where they were brought by ambulance to hospitals. Block Island (aka New Shoreham) had only one ambulance vehicle to move students - a converted hearse.