Run-Aground Fishing Boat Finally Towed To Safety

Run-Aground Fishing Boat Finally Towed To Safety

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -

Investigators just left the Atlantic City dock where a 56 foot fishing boat has been towed to safety after being grounded on the beach for 19 hours today.

The 56 foot scallop boat, the "Jessica Heather", is being towed back to port tonight. It is escorted by New Jersey State Police. There to meet them at the dock: Coast Guard investigators.

Investigators are trying to find out what caused the boat with a crew of 3 onboard to veer miles off course and then ground itself off Missouri Avenue late Sunday night.

At one point the coast guard says the boat came dangerously close to slamming into Atlantic City's Caesar's Pier.

"The captain of the vessel was not driving at the time. One of the mates was driving. And the initial report he did state the mate may have fallen asleep," says Lt. Eric Leese of the US Coast Guard.

Luckily it all happened at night when the beach was empty.

By day break everyone forgot about the slot machines. The beached boat became the main attraction today.

"I think I'm glad I'm not out there with a boat. You think that guy is in trouble," says Scott Manahan of New Albany, PA.

"Somebody is thinking, 'How I can cover my butt. You know what story can I come up with to make it believable,'" quips Keith Thompson of Newtown, CT.

The Coast Guard and a private tow boat waited until tonight's high tide to pull the Jessica Heather free. It wasn't easy or fast according to the guy doing it.

"Now it's just slowly working the vessel out of the surf. Through the sand," says John Ryan of Shamrock Towing.

19 hours later, the Jessica Heather was finally free and on it's way to the dock.

"This had to cost a lot of money. Who is going to front that money? They are. It's their insurance policy that pays for that. We had to keep lifeguards extra on duty we had the ACPD extra on duty," says Tom Foley of the Atlantic County Emergency Management.

Depending on what investigators find, the Captain and owner of the boat could be facing big fines, which we are told will run well over 10 thousand dollars.

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