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Man Swims 5 Hours, Rescues Family
Swam 3 miles in bid to get help
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2013 11:22 AM CDT
Riggs' niece Emily Horn, 9, was among those saved from a capsized boat.   (Chris Horn/Delmarva Now)

(Newser) – Maryland can claim a new hero: John Riggs swam five hours in rough waters in a bid to save his family members, who were clinging to their capsized fishing boat two miles offshore in the darkness of Tuesday night. Riggs swam three miles, stopping only to rest on a buoy, before he reached the rocky coast and went to the first house he saw, WBOC reports. "I looked around the corner and there was a man standing on my deck," the resident said. "He kept saying 'I just need to save my family.'"

The homeowner called for help and a rescue boat and helicopter were sent to the stranded: his 70-year-old father, sister, and niece and nephew, ages 9 and 3. Apart from a few jellyfish stings, they were unharmed. "It's an amazing story," says the fire chief, adding Riggs fought "some of the worse tides in the Chesapeake Bay" during his long swim. Though police tell Delmarva Now the family can thank their life jackets for saving them, Riggs' niece, 9, says her uncle is "a real hero"—though next time, she's only going fishing "if the water is really shallow."

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Showing 3 of 33 comments
Jul 13, 2013 2:40 AM CDT
Did he have the mandatory Coast Guard equipment? flares, etc.? Did he have a hand held radio? Did he check the marine forecast? Although a brave finish, lack of preparation got him into the predicament.
Jul 13, 2013 12:14 AM CDT
Thank goodness he actually cared about his sister and her kids!
Jul 12, 2013 9:57 PM CDT
Michael Phelps should give him a gold medal.