Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue saved a Wilmington man Sunday, Aug. 9 after his kayak capsized when he was snagged by a fishing hook from a line cast from Johnnie Mercer’s Pier.
Lifeguard Tyler Howell paddled a rescue board about 300 yards to assist Hugh Taylor, 54, of Wilmington, who was hanging onto his capsized single-person kayak. Upon reaching Taylor, Howell indicated with a wave that Taylor was all right, as he was wearing a lifejacket. Taylor, who had a fishing lure embedded in the skin of his head, was tangled in the line.
“I flipped the boat so the hook wouldn’t dig deeper,” Taylor said.
After seeing Taylor wasn’t in danger of drowning, Howell said their next concern was the fishing line attached to his body.
“He had a fishing hook tanged in his head and on the kayak,” Howell said. “We didn’t want it to tangle in the shore break.”
To prevent that, lifeguard Mary Bojarski swam halfway out with scissors to cut the line. She called the swim challenging and unique in lifeguarding.
Onshore, lifeguards treated Taylor and wrapped the hook in tape to prevent further injury.
Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Director Dave Baker said his lifeguards performed exactly as they were trained and that the paddleboard was the quickest way to reach Taylor.
“These things happen,” Baker said. “We do this every day.”