Point Beach police, fire and first aid responders worked in the cold, rising tide of the Manasquan Inlet waters Thursday night to save a woman and a boy who had tried to save her himself.
Maureen Bush, 29, Manchester, fell between sharp, craggy rocks into the inlet water, and Daniel Reinhardt, 16, who had tried to save her, are both OK after being rescued by the emergency responders, said Police Detective Clint Daniel.
"The 16-year-old boy was fantastic and should be commended," Daniel said at police headquarters Thursday night. "He tried to get her out, but it was just too slippery. Everyone worked together and did a great job."
Daniel said the incident should be a wake-up call to everyone to never go on the inlet rocks, which are slippery and treacherous.
Bush was being treated at Ocean Medical Center, Brick, for scrapes, bruises and a possible head injury she may have suffered when she fell between the rocks and into the water, where she was knocked about by the rough, rising tide, Daniel said.
Bush was talking to emergency responders and then to hospital staff and seemed to be OK, other than having her head checked, Daniel said.
Police got a 911 call, likely from the boy's 19-year-old brother, Matthew Reinhardt, at 6:43 p.m., reporting that someone was in distress in the inlet rocks, Daniel said.
Bush had been fishing with two men when she fell between the rocks into the water, was stuck and couldn't get out by herself, according to what she told police later.
Her friend, Francisco Rodriguez, 29, Manchester, went in to get her, but couldn't save her and then couldn't climb out himself.
Then Reinhardt, of Old Bridge, heard them screaming and went in to try to help them and also couldn't get out, Daniel said.
"We rescued three people out there," Daniel said.
When police arrived at the scene, they set up lights and found they had three people stuck at different levels in the rocks, with the woman the furthest down, stuck in the water as the tide was rising around her.
Police were able to reach Reinhardt and Rodriguez and help them climb out.
Officer Kyle Grace managed to crawl further down into the rocks where the woman was stuck and got her into a rescue basket connected to a rope held on the other end by Point Beach firefighters, Daniel said.
Officers Kyle Boturla, Brian Spader and Daniel were above Grace and the woman and were able to form a human chain, passing the woman in the basket from one to the other until she was safely on the jetty surface, Daniel said.
Getting into the right positions in the rocks, getting the woman in the basket and then out of the rocks was a tough process, Daniel said.
Fire department volunteers, including Deputy Fire Chief John Pasola, A.J. Fox and Ira Waldman, aided in pulling the woman up and the overall rescue operation.
Andy Meaney and other volunteers from the Point Pleasant First Aid and Emergency Squad assisted with the rescue and treated Bush, Rodriguez and Reinhardt. The squad also transported Bush to the hospital.
Emergency responders cleared the scene at 7:51 p.m.
Bush's other friend had not been in the rocks and was fine.
Daniel said he hopes news of the incident is a stark warning.
"No one should ever go out on the rocks, no matter what," Daniel said.
"People don't realize that when the tide is low, it's easy to climb out there," Daniel said. "But as soon as the tide comes in and the tops of the rocks get wet, it gets very slippery.
"And under the rocks, there are pockets where it's easy to get stuck," he said. There's green algae that, as soon as it gets wet, it gets very slippery."