Woman Rescued, Boat Operator Under the Influence near Assawoman Bay

A group of a dozen people on a Carolina Skiff noticed one person, a 20-year-old woman, missing as they rode north near Assawoman Bay in Ocean City early Wednesday.

The passengers called 911, and the Coast Guard rescued the woman from the water. USCG got to her 35 minutes after she was reported missing, and found her safe and uninjured.

The 22-foot Carolina Skiff was headed north from the Route 90 bridge in Ocean City when Ocean City 911 dispatch said a caller “noticed the woman missing among the 11 other passengers.” It’s not clear how long she was in the water before the boaters noticed her absence.

Coast Guard Station Ocean City launched a 24-foot Special Purpose Craft-Shallow Water crew to search for the woman. Once they found her safe, they brought her to her friends and local police at the boat owner’s house. USCG says it’s a case of BUI.

“The operator of the vessel was issued a violation for boating under the influence,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Nathan Beach, officer in charge of Coast Guard Station Ocean City. “Always designate a sober operator if you’re drinking alcohol on the water.”

In Maryland, a boat operator is considered to be Boating Under the Influence (BUI) if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, or is impaired by alcohol, or is “so far impaired by any drug, combination of drugs, or combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that he or she cannot operate a vessel safely,” or is impaired by any controlled dangerous substance.

The Coast Guard cites 2017 Recreational Boating Statistics that show alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

-Meg Walburn Viviano