ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – The Coast Guard helped rescue a man whose plan to camp on a local island was dashed by the weather.
According to an Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, the man told deputies he went to Ragged Island with a tent intent on camping. He fell asleep and woke up, surrounded by water.
The U.S. Coast Guard 5th District Public Affairs office said in a news release the camper rescued is 33 year-old Anthony Gontarz.
The Carrollton Volunter Fire Department was called to the scene. Chief Joel Acree said Gontarz called 911 and was able to tell dispatchers where he was located and that his cell phone was dying. Emergency responders lost communication with him, but were able to spot him because of a head lamp with a strobe the camper had with him.
Acree said he quickly realized firefighters would not be able to get to Gontarz in a boat. Acree said the weather conditions were too bad, so he called on the Coast Guard.
“We had good comms. with the fire department there,” said Lt. Jenny Fields, one of the pilots from the rescue. “We made a plan with them and together got that guy out of harm’s way as quickly as we could.”
With the help of the head lamp, Coast Guard crews were able to locate Gontarz.
“[The water] had risen to where he was surrounded by somewhat deep water, shin deep mostly,” said Andrew Arneson, the flight mechanic for the crew. “But, there were several creeks that had cut him off from the highway.”
The crew, based out of Elizabeth City, rescued the camper in an MH-60 Jayhawk. They lowered a basket to him and hoisted him up into the aircraft. The crew then landed on the highway, which had been shut down, and he was taken to Riverside Regional Medical Center.
A spokesperson from the medical center said Gontarz was treated and released.