Swimmers rescued from boulder off Great Rock Bight

Great Rock Bight is a popular Land Bank beach. — File photo by Susan Safford

A pair of good Samaritans helped rescue a Connecticut father and son who got in trouble while swimming Friday evening off the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank’s Great Rock Bight Preserve, off North Road in Chilmark.

The father was swimming off the North Shore beach in high waves and a strong onshore wind when he began struggling in the water. His 14-year-old son swam out to assist him, Chilmark police said in a press release.

Both men, whom police did not identify, then became distressed. They swam to a large boulder that was nearby and rises out of the water well off the beach. The son attempted to hold his father up on the rock so he could regain his strength.

Unable to get a clear wireless signal, the man’s wife began running back to the beach parking area to call 911. On her way off the beach she encountered Andrew Vandermeulen of Vineyard Haven and Jenna Ware of Hatchville.

The young man and young woman saw the men struggling and swam out to the distressed swimmers. The good Samaritans helped the son get up on the rock where with their assistance he was able to pull his father up to a safe perch. The father was exhausted and unable to regain his composure, police said. All four remained on the rock, because of the rough water conditions.

Police and firefighters received the first emergency call about 6:45 pm. Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi, one of the first officers to arrive, swam out to the rock with a personal floatation device (PFD). Chief Cioffi put the life jacket on the father and began to give medical aid.

When Aquinnah Police officers Curtis Chandler and Dave Murphy heard the first call they boarded the Wampanoag Tribe’s natural resources department boat and hurried to assist. They were able to help all four people safely aboard the boat.

The officers brought the good Samaritans back to the shore and took the father and son back to Menemsha Harbor.

The Tri-Town Ambulance service brought the father to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He was released later that evening.

Chief Cioffi said the wife of the man rescued from the rock told police she was extremely grateful to the two beachgoers and up-Island emergency personnel.

The United States Coast Guard and Massachusetts Environmental Police also responded and assisted in Menemsha.