Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

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


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. 

Skip to next paragraph

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. 

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer


Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Endeavor Global, cofounded by Linda Rottenberg (here at the nonprofit’s headquarters in New York), helps entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Linda Rottenberg helps people pursue dreams – and create thousands of jobs

She's chief executive of Endeavor Global, a nonprofit group that gives a leg up to budding entrepreneurs.

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!