Teens rescued from James River

Two teen girls were pulled from the James River after the current took them out into the water the afternoon of July 9, 2014. (WAVY/Walter Hildebrand)
Two teen girls were pulled from the James River after the current took them out into the water the afternoon of July 9, 2014. (WAVY/Walter Hildebrand)

JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – Two teen girls were pulled from the James River after the current took them out into the water Wednesday afternoon.

Officials say the James City County Fire Department was called to a report of the teens in the water near the Jamestown Ferry. The girls were holding onto a piling at the ferry pier.

Sarah Pettengill and Theri Giardi said they were not in distress but could not get out of the water. The two 15-year-old best friends decided to take a swim out past the ferry bridge but then couldn’t get back to shore as a current pushed them further out.

Giardi told WAVY.com, “We were swimming in place for an hour and a half. We realized we weren’t going anywhere so we said ‘let the current take us’ and as we swam with the current we hit the bridge and that’s when people on top of the ferry started seeing us and they were so nice they were throwing down ropes and blankets.”

Sarah Pettengill says by that time they had been swimming and treading water but getting nowhere. “We did end up getting to the ferry bridge and there was this guy standing out there who started shouting ‘are you girls okay?’ Next thing I know he was giving us rope.”

Captain David Hardin with the Sheriff’s Office just happened to be on the ferry bridge at the time and grabbed some rope from his vehicle.”I held onto the rope. One of the girls was able to grab onto the rope. She held on to the rope, holding onto the piling at the same time, couldn’t really grab it. The other girl swam over to it.”

By then, the fire crews arrived and the ferry as well and crews threw out life preservers to the girls. According to Pettengill, “The guy that works at the beach called the 4-H camp and two nice men from the 4-H camp came up in their motor boat and picked us up and that was really awesome.”

The girls say they got minor cuts from holding onto the barnacle laden pilings, but they refused any medical treatment.

Both say they are thankful to everyone who helped them and say the know it could have been worse.

Photo by WAVY/Walter Hildebrand
Photo by WAVY/Walter Hildebrand

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