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
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(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."

Riggs' niece Emily Horn, 9, was among those saved from a capsized boat.
Riggs' niece Emily Horn, 9, was among those saved from a capsized boat.   (Chris Horn/Delmarva Now)
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