Apart from the police, fire and cost guard launching land and water rescue from both Quincy and Weymouth shores, a search helicopter was deployed over the point, circling the area from George Lane Beach to Webb State Park, casting eerie shadows over quiet homes as it struggled to keep its light on the dark low tide where Hingham Bay meets the Fore River at Rosecliff. Neighbors on the peninsula were roused from a typically still night by sirens and the chopper.
A family, living by the water, first heard screams around 9 p.m. They gathered at the sea wall, a tall barrier between water and road, listening as the channel carried desperation to their ears. The family’s patriarch jumped in his kayak and took to the water, while others called police. It was reported by witnesses that official rescue efforts took nearly an hour to arrive and had to be called multiple times. The patriarch was able to pull a drowning pair out of the water onto his kayak, keeping them warm while paddling to safety.
As the chopper kept circling and search boats continued cutting back-and-forth through the glassy water, rumor spread that a third person was still in the water.
Moments later, the brave kayaker, dressed head-to-toe in blaze orange coveralls, marched past the crowd of neighbors to the waiting arms of his family and into his home, triumphantly declaring “we got him!” Official search efforts suddenly ceased and the retreat behind shut doors began. The neighborhood went back to its private evening routine: brush teeth; wash face; take handful of pills; dress for bed; watch American Idol on the DVR.
One neighbor, who stuck around in the dwindling crowd for a few extra moments, expressed what many were no doubt thinking but didn’t say: the circumstances prompting the heroic efforts were suspicious.
The prevailing rumor was that a boat sank leaving its occupants in the cool fall waters and that at least one person in distress could not swim. If this were true, what were they doing out there on a boat in the middle of the night? Why were safety measures not taken and no one wearing a life vest? Did they hit a rock exposed by the valley of low tide? Did they take on water too quickly to reach safety? Was the boat in fact a dingy that wasn’t plugged?
How did people, at the pitch of a November night, nearly drown in these seemingly innocuous waters, popularly recreational in summer when neighbors venture out of seclusion?