A Maryland State Police helicopter crew rescued five people stranded on the Susquehanna Flats near here and Perryville, Maryland late Friday night.
Shortly after 7:45 p.m., a Maryland State Police Aviation Command helicopter was dispatched from the Easton Section – Trooper 6, to assist in locating a small fire company rescue boat, whose crew became disoriented and lost after rescuing three waterfowl hunters. After locating the missing boat, the Maryland State Police launched Trooper 1, a helicopter based at Martin State Airport at about 8:45 p.m. to assist with the extrication of five people stuck on the rescue boat. The fire company boat, located in an area of the silt and mud-laden flats, was inaccessible by other rescue boats. Crews noted hypothermia was the concern as temperatures were near-freezing with winds gusting to almost 30 miles per hour, according to State Police.
The hunters were returning from an outing when their boat encountered problems with the shifting tides and mud. Rescue crews from the Susquehanna Hose Company, the Harford County Department of Emergency Services Special Operations unit and several other agencies were able to rescue the hunters approximately one hour after the initial 9-1-1 call. However, the crew on the small rescue boat became lost and stranded in shallow water and mud. The four-person crew from Trooper 6 located the rescue boat with the three hunters and two rescuers aboard shortly before 9:20 p.m. The crew from Trooper 6 was running low on fuel and requested the assistance of Trooper 1 for an aerial (hoist) extraction.
The two pilots flying Trooper 1 maneuvered the AW-139 helicopter into position 100 feet above the hunters and rescuers. Trooper 1’s Corporal/Crew Chief lowered a rescue basket to the side of the rescue boat, where a hunter was able to climb in and then hoisted into the aircraft. That same evolution was completed four additional times to rescue the remaining hunters and fire company personnel. All victims were successfully loaded and secured into the aircraft and taken National Guard Armory in Havre de Grace, where a Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps crew evaluated the five individuals for hypothermia. No injuries were reported during the nearly four-hour operation.
A United States Coast Guard helicopter based out of Atlantic City, New Jersey was also dispatched to the scene. However, MSP’s helicopter crew rescued all the victims prior to their arrival.