Three people were charged after an incident on Saturday night that led to Southampton Town Police, the United States Coast Guard and other agencies aiding in a water rescue of 40 people stranded or swimming in Shinnecock Bay and Inlet after a sandbar barbeque gone wrong led to dozens being stranded.
Southampton Town Police received reports around 8:20 p.m. of two distressed males swimming in the Shinnecock Inlet. Officers from the department’s community response unit, patrol and detective’s division arrived on the scene and found one of the men, Thomas Besch, 23, of Hampton Bays, being rescued from the bay by area residents after he was unable to get out of the water on his own. The United States Coast Guard found a second man, 23-years-old, of Medford, who was found being sucked into the Atlantic Ocean from the Shinnecock Inlet. He was rescued and brought to Oakland’s Marina in Hampton Bays.
According to police, both men were at a barbeque being held on a sandbar in the in bay, which is located north of the Shinnecock Inlet. Police determined about 37 additional people were stranded on a sandbar. Suffolk County Police Aviation, Southampton Town Bay Constables, Quogue Village Police Marine Unit, Suffolk County Parks Police, the Hampton Bays, Southampton and North Sea Fire Departments and the Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance responded to the scene immediately.
As departments began to mobilize on the scene for the mass rescue effort, a third male subject was found swimming in the channel. The Coast Guard quickly responded from the Oakland’s Marine Basin and rescued the 20-year-old, a resident of Hampton Bays.
The rest of the people stranded on the sandbar were transported to Oakland’s Marine Basin. Just one person was transported to the hospital for precautionary reasons, said police.
All three men found in the inlet will be charged for violating town code for swimming in a prohibited area as police said they entered the water at their own risk before rescue efforts began.
Besch, who police said appeared under the influence of alcohol, was also charged with obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, a misdemeanor, as police said he fled the scene despite being told he would be charged with a town code violation. Officers found him at the Ponquogue Bridge and he was transported to police headquarters and held for arraignment.
The investigation into this incident is ongoing. Anyone with information into this incident is encouraged to call the Southampton Town Police Department at 631-728-3400, or contact the Southampton Town Police Department’s Detective Division, 631-702-2230. All calls will be kept confidential.