BRIARCLIFFE ACRES — Two boaters were reunited with relieved family members Thursday night hours after their catamaran flipped and washed ashore on the beach in the Town of Briarcliffe Acres.
Horry County Police, North Myrtle Beach Police and the U.S. Coast Guard launched a search for the two men, Giuseppe Chillico, 49, and Keith Crook, 50, after the sailboat, a 19-foot vessel, was reported to have flipped in the water.
The men, both in their 40s, launched the boat around 60th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach for a recreational sail, said Cpl. Justin Wyatt, with Horry County Police. The conditions weren’t favorable for small craft though.
“There were very high waves, rip current threats and the longshore current was pulling heavily to the north,” Wyatt said. “It was just all around bad conditions.”
On the shore in front of the cabana at the Town of Briarcliffe Acres the group which included a brother of the boater and two women breathed sighs of relief learning their family was safe around 11:30 p.m.
Moments later, the men were driven to their family waiting at the boat washed ashore right at the town’s main beach access. They were treated on scene by emergency medical personnel, declined further treatment and walked off the beach.
The men were found about 300 yards south from where the boat landed, Wyatt said.
“The boat capsized in the water and with the heavy currents they weren’t able to get back on board,” he said. “They tried to swim to shore.”
County authorities were called just before 7 p.m., said Wyatt said. An hour later, the Coast Guard was called to aid the search said Christopher McDonald, petty officer with the Coast Guard in Charleston.
The search was hampered by beachgoers shining laser pointers at the Coast Guard helicopter and on the beach. Mcdonald sadi their search was suspended until the problem could be taken care of. The laser pointers can damage the eyes of the pilot who is wearing night vision goggles, he said.
Police attempted to find the people with the laser pointers, but were unable to locate or arrest anyone.
The boat will remain in the sand for a night and the family will tow it off during daylight, said Kyle Lamparter with Briarcliffe Acres police.
The Sun News senior reporter and business editor Dawn Bryant contributed to this report.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381.