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Garwood Resident Rescued Stranded Surfer as Sandy Hit

John Todisco's boat was in the right place at the right time to make an at-sea rescue.

John Todisco was just trying to get his boat docked safely before Hurricane Sandy hit in late October 2012. Little did Todisco know, he'd soon be a hero, picking up a stranded surfer off the coast of Sea Bright on the Sunday before the hurricane made landfall in New Jersey.

"My boat was docked in Sea Bright and because of the location I was concerned about dock, so I had to get boat out of there," Todisco told Patch. "I found a place in Pt. Pleasant to dock it but I had to get it there. I knew the storm was coming and I knew it wasn’t full strength yet. I decided I'd attempt the run and if it was bad I would go back."

Todisco said he typically doesn't have the marine radio on when he's out boating, but for some reason, on this day he did.

"I'm typically not a radio guy," says Todisco. "It's usually a bunch of jargon. I had almost shut it off, but then thought, let me just leave it on."

Minutes later, Todisco and two friends who came along with him, heard something interesting. 

"It was 'Gentlemen, there’s a sport fisherman off of Sea Bright - are you on channel 13?'" remembers Todisco. "I thought, woah, I’m a sport fisherman. I’m the only one out here. I bet I’m only guy on whole east coast. Yeah, you got me!"

Todisco radio'd in and the dispatcher explained that they needed him to pick up a stranded surfer.

"They said he was 200 yards off of Sea Bright," says Todisco. "They were going to deploy a helicopter out of Atlantic City, but said that was going to take at least 40 minutes and they didn’t think the kid would make it. Nobody on the shore could have made it out."

Todisco says he spotted the surfer, got his boat in as close as he could once, threw out a line and was able to pull the teen into the boat.

"The transom door on the boat is for pulling in tuna, but turns out it pulls in surf guys pretty good too," says Todisco. 

Todisco says folks on shore applauded the rescue, and then he continued on his way to Pt. Pleasant, where the boy's parents met him and even gave the crew a lift back to Sea Bright.  

“It’s funny I was there," says Todisco. "For me just having my radio on made that happen. I'm glad we were able to help.

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