Lauren Conner laughed when she first slipped off the boat.There was alcohol involved? I'm shocked, shocked.
She, her boyfriend and another couple had spent Sunday afternoon drinking in sunshine and cold beer on the Sassafras River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. They began heading to the dock shortly before nightfall, but as the 21-foot Yamaha motored north through the Chesapeake Bay at 40 mph, the hull struck a wake so hard that Conner fell off the stern.
She immediately popped to the surface, unharmed but embarrassed that perhaps she’d drunk a few too many bottles of Flying Dog lager. Conner, 32, expected some teasing from her companions as she watched the boat stop and turn back toward her. At any moment, she was sure, they’d find her.
No more than 40 yards away, she screamed through the stiff wind. When that didn’t work, she stripped off her white shorts and waved them.Long story short, she stayed afloat and drifted/swam to Spesutie Island, part of Aberdeen Proving Ground. Our water temperature is upwards of 80 F these days, making long term survival a realistic possibility. But having a life jacket with a whistle and glow stick on it would have turned this into a two minute adventure, rather than a 12 hour ordeal.
Her boyfriend, Scott Johnson, frantically scanned the surface, but the fading sun betrayed him. The low light flashed across every wave, creating a kaleidoscope of false hope. Minutes passed, and he began to fear that she’d hit her head and sunk. Johnson called 911 and remained on the phone to navigate rescuers toward his position. He lit a flare and held it up as clumps of the fiery red substance dripped off, scorching his hand and head.