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Paddle Boarder Rescued After Drifting Into Atlantic

Officials say the man was caught in a current off of Fire Island.

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A man from Rockville Center was paddle boarding off of Fire Island on Saturday when he was caught in a strong rip current and began drifting in the Atlantic Ocean.

Officials say that 32-year-old Brian Hopkins was able to use his cell phone to call 911 as he fought against six- to eight-feet tall waves with white caps. The Suffolk County Marine Bureau dispatched three different vessels to find Hopkins.

Marine 35, Marine Kilo and Marine Mike were the three units dispatched to find Hopkins. The waves made it difficult for them to locate him, but he was able to stay on the phone until a police helicopter found him.

According to, Suffolk Aviation Sergeant Eugene Sengstacken and Officer Tammy Coniglio directed the three boats to Hopkins’ location.

When he called 911, Hopkins told the dispatcher that he was about a half mile from the Fire Island Lighthouse, and drifting south. He was about a mile off shore of Fire Island when the units were able to locate him.

Officals said that they were able to bring Hopkins aboard one of the vessels as the helicopter hovered above. Hopkins was treated for hypothermia aboard the ship.

Officer Joseph Pignataro, who is a paramedic with department’s medical crisis action team, treated Hopkins aboard the ship. Hopkins was then taken to the local U.S. Coast Guard station. He was later taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip. Officials did not state his condition.

In a press release from the Suffolk County Police Department, officials identified a number of members of the Marine Bureau that assisted in the rescue. These members include Sergeant Paul Mercready, Police Officers Keith Magliola, Joseph White, Daniel Smith, Lisa Savino, Michel Axelson, Kevin Comisekey and Frank Sierra.