Chesapeake Bay crabber Jeremy Shockley calls himself a "pirate," but a lot of other people are calling him a hero. He was at a dock in Maryland Wednesday evening when he heard a mayday call, grabbed a crew, and rescued 22 people, including 14 children, whose boat had sunk in a remote area about 35 minutes north of him, WBAL reports. The school group's boat went down after hitting a submerged object in a restricted area around Bloodsworth Island, which the Navy used as a bombing range for more than 50 years. Shockley arrived to find the shivering group on the sunken boat's canopy, more than half a mile from shore. He managed to squeeze them all on his boat and get them to safety, where some of them required medical attention.
Shockley tells the Washington Post that he thought he would be rescuing a fishing party of two or three people. "I just couldn't imagine it. Seeing children sit on top of the boat like that," the waterman says, adding that the tide "runs hard" in that area and the situation could have easily been a disaster. Police say it was very lucky that Shockley was nearby—and that everybody was wearing life preservers. A spokesman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says Shockley will be awarded a citation for averting "what could have been a terrible tragedy," the Baltimore Sun reports. In a Facebook post, Shockley thanked other watermen who assisted in the rescue. "I guess all pirates aren't bad as everyone thinks they are," he said. (Read more Chesapeake Bay stories.)