NCDOT Ferry Crew Honored for Ocean Rescue

The North Carolina Board of Transportation recently honored the crew of a state ferry for the January rescue of two hunters and their dog in danger of drowning at sea after their boat overturned.

[Above photo by NCDOT]

While tying up at the Ocracoke-South Dock Terminal, the crew of the M/V Hatteras – one of the 21 ferries operated by the North Carolina Department of Transportation – noticed two men hanging onto an overturned boat swiftly floating out of Hatteras Inlet toward the Atlantic Ocean.

That’s when Ferry Captain Bill Davis sounded the general alarm, notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the emergency, and then launched his vessel’s rescue boat.

Crew members Gerald Huneycutt and David Butler traveled in the rescue vessel a half mile to the overturned boat’s location, where the two hunters clinging to the boat – Mike Herulan of Salisbury, NC, and Doug Illing of Myrtle Beach, SC – alerted them that their dog, Fin, was trapped underneath their overturned craft.

The crew members pulled the two men and the canine out of the water and into the rescue boat, eventually bringing them on board the M/V Hatteras. Other ferry crew members involved in the rescue were Chief Engineer Robbie Meekins, Oiler Amander Przygodzinski, and Calob Fulford.

“The quick actions of our crew likely saved all three lives,” noted Jed Dixon, interim director of the NCDOT’s Ferry Division, in a statement. “All our crews run rescue drills weekly, and on that day that training and knowledge was critical in a difficult situation.”

State department of transportation workers across in the country have stepped up in emergency situations to save lives and lead recovery operations.

In November 2023, a New Hampshire Department of Transportation crew and team of contractors recently found themselves in the right place at the right time to save a man from drowning in the bone-chilling waters of Lake Winnipesaukee near the town of Alton.

In March 2023, staff from District 7 of the Illinois Department of Transportation rallied together to help the small rural town of Robinson in Crawford County clean up and recover from a deadly tornado.

In June 2023, the State of California honored 11 California Department of Transportation employees with the State Employee Medal of Valor award; the highest honor California bestows on its public servants. The awards are given to state employees for acts of heroism that go beyond the normal call of duty and at great personal risk to protect state property or save lives.  

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