Milford firefighters rescue 2 adults, 8 children in Sound

Milford firefighters rescued two adults and eight children from Long Island Sound Monday afternoon after the group ran into trouble along the sandbar leading to Charles Island.

At about 1:10 p.m. Monday, Milford’s 911 dispatch center received a call from a bystander reporting that 10 people were being overcome by a rising tide. The incident occurred in the waters of Long Island Sound between Silver Sands State Park and Charles Island.

The group, consisting of two adults and eight children from Glastonbury, had walked out to Charles Island on a sandbar that becomes visible during low tide. Having misjudged the tide, the group quickly became overcome while attempting their return to shore, according to Fire Battalion Chief Anthony Fabrizi.

Milford firefighters quickly responded to the area with three marine units including a Jet Ski that is specially equipped for water rescue. Upon arrival at the scene, fire personnel found all of the children in distress and barely able to maintain their heads above the water. The firefighters quickly rescued the two youngest children and returned them to shore on the specialized Jet Ski. Milford Fire’s Marine 1 and 2 units were next to quickly arrive and take the remaining victims to shore where they were evaluated. No injuries were reported.

Fire personnel from Quint 3 and Engine 4 have received specialized training in the operation of the Jet Ski for this type of water rescue, Fabrizi said. “The unit has proven to be a valuable addition to the Milford Fire Department Marine fleet,” he said.

With the summer season in full swing, it is important to remind all residents and visitors of the City of Milford to obey the posted warning signs along the shoreline, firefighters advised.

Due to budget cuts, the Department of Energy and Environmental Project does not have lifeguards at Silver Sands Beach on Mondays or Tuesdays.

There have been drownings and near drownings at the sandbar that leads to the island due to the swift undercurrent in that area.

Last September, the Milford Fire Department rescued two people from the waters off Silver Sands State Beach after the people were swept off the sandbar. Fire officials were on the scene, actually training for that exact situation, when the people needed help.

Last July, Milford firefighters rescued three people from near drowning there. The three people, ages 23, 20 and 17, were making their way to the island, unaware that the tide was coming in.

In 2011, a 34-year-old Hamden man was swept from the sandbar and drowned. The incoming tide knocked him into the water and the strong current and undertow carried him to his death, officials said at the time. His widow later asked that the sandbar be closed to people.

In the month preceding that, there were several rescues on the sandbar when people were caught by the tide.

The stretch of sand and rock leading from the park to the island is a tombolo, commonly called a sandbar, uncovered during low tide but otherwise covered by water. Local officials are constantly cautioning people to know and understand the tide before venturing onto the sandbar. Also, signs have been posted at the beach warning of the dangers of crossing the sandbar.