Seven rescued from rough surf in Watch Hill

Westerly — Lifeguards and staff from a Watch Hill beach resort helped save seven struggling swimmers, including three children, floundering in some rough surf on Tuesday, police said.

Several adults had gone in to aid the younger swimmers who were apparently caught up in the breaking waves and rip current and having trouble getting to shore, said Westerly Ambulance Corps Chief Bethany Gingerella.

“They were in danger of drowning,” Gingerella said. “They were all fatigued.”

The 911 call to Westerly Dispatch came in at 2:37 p.m. with reports of numerous distressed swimmers in the water in the area of the wall on East Beach in Watch Hill.

Gingerella said the area is a public beach but is not patrolled by lifeguards.

Westerly Ambulance Corps responded with multiple ambulances and a water rescue vehicle, joined by boats and personnel from the Watch Hill Fire Department, Charlestown EMS, Westerly Police Department, Department of Environmental Management and U.S. Coast Guard.

First responders arrived to find that lifeguards from the neighboring Ocean House resort had joined with some of their own staff to help the swimmers to shore.

A member of the Ocean House restaurant staff, who asked not to be identified, said lifeguards had gone into the water and attached ropes to the swimmers who were pulled to shore through a group effort.

Lifeguards are on duty at Dune Cottage, an Ocean House dining outlet on the beach.

Michelle Wade, director of communications for the Ocean House, said she was proud of and impressed with the staff’s swift actions to help those in need.

“It’s nice to hear how easily they jumped in to help out,” Wade said. “I think that’s a great indication of the people we have working at the Ocean House — the spirit, consideration and concern.”

Westerly Ambulance transported four patients to Westerly Hospital for evaluation and another three were taken to the hospital in private vehicles.

“On behalf of the first responders on the scene we would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Ocean House staff for their dedication and assistance in saving the lives of these seven victims,” Gingerella said in a written statement. “It goes without saying that without their efforts the outcome may not have been as positive as it was today.”

g.smith@theday.com

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