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Man swims 5 hours to shore as family holds onto capsized boat

Man swims 5 hours to the rocky shore of Maryland to help his family, including two children, after their boat capsized two miles off the coast. 

By StaffAssociated Press / July 12, 2013

Man swims 5 hours to help his family after their boat capsized off the Maryland coast. Officials said the weather is to blame. Here, a storm grows in Florida as sailors and swimmers head home, June 6.

AP/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack

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Deal Island, Md.

A man swam 5 hours, resting once on a crab pot buoy, toward shore to help his family after their boat capsized two miles off the shore of Maryland. 

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Once he reached land, John Franklin Riggs climbed rocks along the shoreline in the dark and knocked on the door of the first house he saw early Wednesday. 

Angela Byrd, who lives at that house, may have slept through Riggs' knocks had it not been for her dog, the Daily Times reported. "He came to the right house," Ms. Byrd told the paper. “He said, ‘I’ve been swimming since sundown; I need help.'"

She called 911 and rescuers were soon on their way to the 16-foot Carolina Skiff.

Sgt. Brian Albert of the Maryland Natural Resources Police says life jackets saved the boaters after the boat capsized near Deal Island southwest of Salisbury, on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Contessa Riggs tells the Daily Times that she clung to the boat with her 3-year-old son, 70-year-old father, and his 9-year-old granddaughter for five hours; they were stung by sea nettles; and she was never so happy to see search boats.

"“It took him five hours to swim ashore. He had to stop and grab a crab pot buoy and rest, then swim," she told the Daily Times. 

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