UPDATE: Cops Say 40 People Rescued in Hampton Bays Saturday Night; 3 Face Charges

Three men arrested on town code violations for swimming in prohibited areas; one of the men additionally charged with obstruction for allegedly disobeying police.

Update, Sunday, 9:50 a.m.: In a statement released Sunday morning, Southampton Town police detectives said that on Saturday night, 40 people were rescued from the water or the sandbar in Shinnecock Bay where a party had previously been held and that three people are facing charges related to the massive water rescue incident.

Det. Timothy Wilson said it all began at around 8:20 p.m., when the department received a report of two male swimmers who appeared to be in distress in the Shinnecock Inlet.

Officers from the 's Community Response Unit, Patrol Division and Detective Division arrived on scene first to discover that one of the swimmers, Thomas Besch, 23, of Hampton Bays, was being pulled from the inlet. Concerned citizens who were looking on pulled him out because "he was unable to exit the water under his own power," police said.

The second swimmer, still in the water, was being pushed out from the inlet south into the Atlantic Ocean by the strong current, according to police. A Coast Guard vessel in the area found him, approximately 200 yards south of the inlet. (Police had previously said it was 300 yards.) The Coast Guard brought the swimmer, Michael Emmerich, 23, of Medford, to Oakland's Marina.

"As this situation unfolded, additional information was developed that the two swimmers were at a barbecue which had been taking place on a sandbar in Shinnecock Bay, which is located north of the Shinnecock Inlet. It was determined that approximately 40 subjects were now stranded on the sandbar," police said, adding they called in for additional resources.

A Suffolk County police helicopter, Southampton Town Bay Constables, Quogue Village Police Marine Unit, Suffolk County Parks Police, the Hampton Bays, and fire departments and the Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance all responded, according to police.

That's when a third man was found swimming in the channel. The Coast Guard vessel, which was at Oakland's Marine Basin, rescue the man, Joseph Scotti, 20, of Hampton Bays.

In addition to the three swimmers, 37 additional people were ferried from the sandbar to Oakland's. The Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance checked each one of them. Only one person was taken to a hospital for precautionary reasons, police said.

Police said Besch appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and was arrested and charged with violating the town code for swimming in a channel or an inlet, as he did so at his own risk and well before a rescue effort had been undertaken. He was also charged with obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, a misdemeanor, because police said he fled the scene after being told he was under arrest on the code violation. Police found him at the Ponquogue Bridge and he was taken to Southampton Town police headquarters, where he was processed and held for arraignment.

Charges were also filed against Scotti and Emmerich on town code violations for swimming in prohibited areas, police reported.

The investigation is ongoing. Those with information are being asked to call the Southampton Town Police Department at 631-728-3400, or the Southampton Town Police Department's Detective Division at 631-702-2230. All calls will be kept confidential, police said.

Update, 10:50 p.m.: The search in Shinnecock Bay has been called off, with everyone believed to be accounted for, after more than 20 people were rescued on Saturday night, according to .

Sgt. Lewis Scott told Patch at the scene that a large group of people were having a party and drinking on the sandbar, or island, earlier in the day. The tide was going out and at least three people were taken by the current as they tried to swim to shore, he said.

A Coast Guard boat that happened to be in the area on patrol rescued one person about 300 yards offshore who was swept through the Shinnecock Inlet. The Coast Guard also rescued at least one person on the bay side of the Shinnecock Canal, Scott said. Another person, who swam toward the rocks at the inlet, was rescued by a civilian, he added.

In all, he said, more than 20 people were rescued from the water and the sandbar.

Rescuers were unsure at first exactly how many people had to be rescued. "A lot of the group didn't know each other," Scott said.

Coast Guard, bay constable and fire department boats ferried people from the sandbar to shore, near Oakland's restaurant and marina. Ambulance crews set up in the parking lot, assessing victims as they came in.

No one appeared to be hurt, but those Patch spoke to were embarrassed by all the commotion.

According to several of the rescued people, who declined to give their names, there were upwards of 65 people at the BBQ at its peak in the afternoon. Boaters had left about 30 people behind on the sandbar with no way to get back and at around dusk some people began swimming to shore, the witnesses said.

Southampton Town police were first on scene and assumed command, working with Suffolk County Fire Rescue coordinators during the massive search that took at least two hours.

Rescuers searched the sandbar on foot, in addition to the county police helicopters searching the waters from the air, to ensure that no one was left behind.

Update, 10:20 p.m.: No one has been reported injured, but police and fire department officials are still trying to confirm the number of people that were rescued and that everyone is accounted for, according to chatter on the radio.

Rescuers are making a last sweep of the sandbar and personnel are going to be released.

Previously: Southampton Town police, bay constables, the Coast Guard, fire and EMS officials are involved in a large water rescue effort in Shinnecock Bay in Hampton Bays on Saturday evening at around 9 p.m.

While details are still unclear, it is being reported that a large group was on an exposed sand-bar in the bay and became stranded, in the dark, as the incoming tide covered the sand-bar. Some people reportedly tried to swim ashore — in a panic, reportedly, and may have been swept out from shore by the tide.

Police and fire department officials have located and brought ashore at least 16 people, as of 10 p.m. There is another group still being rescued.

Police set up a command post near restaurant and marina, near the inlet.

It does not appear anyone is missing, but police are still interviewing people involved in the incident to account for everyone.

A Suffolk County Police helicopter responded and is reporting to rescuers from the air, while also providing a search light. Fire engines and trucks provided telescoping lights.

Southampton Town police were unavailable comment.

The Hampton Bays Fire Department, Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance, Flanders Ambulance, Southampton Town Ambulance were responding. Boats from North Sea, Flanders, East Quogue, and Southampton fire departments also responded.

Divers are standing by.

Details are developing. Please check back for more information as it becomes available.

Brendan J. O'Reilly is reporting from the scene.

Shinnecock Hills August 26, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Excellent questions Liz. I'm sure we'll see all the trash floating in the bay today. I saw quite a bit on Friday before this so-called BBQ. What a shame.
Rts August 26, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Quogue Fire depr was also dispatched
Wilbur Freewright August 26, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Who held the party, Dumb and Dumber? Superb reporting!
Anita Carr August 26, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Wow. Because of this incident...not even (1) boat will be able to go there. What a shame. Our town is certainly changing.
Enuf II August 26, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Shame on the first responders for rescuing this lot. Natural selection is a very normal and necessary process to ensure that the human race continues with only the strongest and mentally sharp dna strands. By interceding in this tragic yet integral part of mother nature we have interrupted the fragile system that darwin described in his theories of evolution and ''only the strong survive'' mantra.
Hbjoker August 26, 2012 at 02:20 PM
glad to see our tax dollars at work again in hampton bays, just like the countless thousands we pay to have our police sit outside the barn and neptunes every sunday! I hope that these people that were there and the ones who left them there have to take responsibility and foot the massive bill that this rescue will surely cost!
jks August 26, 2012 at 02:37 PM
WIth over 60 people on the sandbar for a BBQ, how is it that the Bay Constable or the Coast Guard did not intervene and stop the craziness before it became dangerous?
jks August 26, 2012 at 02:38 PM
You are so right Blackwell.
Roger Blaugh August 26, 2012 at 02:47 PM
An excellent job done by our Town Police and those trained responders who helped out. It could have been a very tragic evening for area families. Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
Virginia Whitelaw August 26, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Live & learn!
jojo is a dumb@$$ August 26, 2012 at 06:50 PM
This is ridiculousness i was at this party unfortunately were everything and anything that could go wrong did. The real problem here is these kids are idiots and i feel no sympathy for them they swam out to a boat a little earlier that was about 8 feet away and didn't make it were the current swept them out and a boater saved them then these tards without telling anyone gave it another shot but across the channel. Also the reason that idoit joseph scotti who is friends with the local authority in hampton bays who they refereed to him as jojo was hanging around the doc making jokes grabbing his crotch and just hanging around everyone with no concern he should be put up on charges also!!! but i guess its who you know. finaly the cop took roll and said "i dont know what you people do from the west but around here we are more careful" hey dumb ass the three kids who drowned were all clowns from Hampton bays.
Doris Scneider August 26, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I like your reaction. We save a lot of idiots who are their own worst enemies. Soon there will be no one left with an ounce of common sense.
b August 26, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Have you tried to have a beach party lately?
Elizabeth Clarke August 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM
You are always a class act Roger so it comes as no surprise you are thoughtful enough to thank all who responded to the rescue. Despite the fact they are paid to do their job, it still can put their own lives at risk, but they go just the same and do whatever they must to save others. Thank's is due all the way around.
s.barrett August 27, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Arresting three people who needed help,what a great arrest.It's obvious this officer must be summer help,his next big lesson will be civil suit for unwarrented arrest
Joe August 27, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Thanks to Les Trafford from Sea Tow who helped direct the rescue.
highhatsize August 27, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I think that the public safety services involved in this incident all did what they are best able to do. The coast guard, a Suffolk County police helicopter, 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 all cooperated in the rescue. The STPD wrote tickets.
Krista Brumagim August 27, 2012 at 03:02 PM
jojo is a dumb@$$ - please go back to school and learn to write cohesively so people understand what you are trying to say. I would love to understand what happened at the party from someone who was there but your ramblings make no sense.
Krista Brumagim August 27, 2012 at 03:05 PM
@ Anita Carr- such a shame, losers ruin an enjoyable spot for everyone though anyone with experience on the water around here knows that is basically a sand bar that disappears when the tide rises. Education of the surrondings could have prevented this dangerous situation. Kudos to all involved in the rescue, quite a task indeed!
David D'Agostino August 27, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Nice coverage, Brendan. Do you ever sleep?
Algebra August 27, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Maybe Hat, because no one else there had the authority to do so. Perhaps a firemen who had to leave a family function was a little pissed at ther antics of these "victims". They put themselves in this position, no one forced them to the island. They tried to outdo Mother Nature and swim that channel during a tide change. But you just can't miss taking a shot at the PD, can you? Man that parking in a handicapped ticket must have pissed you off bad.
b August 27, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Absolutely Les does a fabulous job!
b August 27, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Anyone who volunteers knows what they are getting into. They deserve a pat on a back but if they didn't want to leave the bbq they didn't have to. The FD provided light. They weren't putting out a fire.
b August 27, 2012 at 04:11 PM
The tide was going out. Not sure what that has to do with it the island getting smaller due to rising tides.
Algebra August 27, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Pat this bb
Krista Brumagim August 27, 2012 at 05:34 PM
My bad, misread it. Still should be aware of where you are and tidal changes.
Jaguar-Guy August 27, 2012 at 06:00 PM
S.S. Minnow - 3 hour tour. Glad they are all safe - being swept out is horrifying - gettting tickets is just ridiculous.
b August 27, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I agree you should be aware, but the boat that was there got stuck in a high tide, which was going down. That is why they called for help. The question is, why would you jump off a perfectly good boat to swim or leave an island to swim when help is on the way. The three guys who swam created the panic.
tj's mom August 28, 2012 at 12:14 AM
i would like to thank all the men and women who help save my son, yes he made a bad chioce and things could have turned out a lot worse for everyone. Its nice to see that our home town, family, friends and strangers are here to support us in good times and bad, the Lord looked out for for these young people and I am grateful...tj's mom
b August 28, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Classy Algebra, real classy


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