Labor Day weekend at the Jersey Shore is a time to sit back, relax and unwind. Tens of thousands head down the parkway to soak in the Summer sun and breath in the fresh smell of the salt air. This past Saturday afternoon was anything but relaxing for one Stone Harbor family who’s 25 year old son went missing. It was a little over an hour after he was supposed be home from a paddle boarding trip when the man’s father filed a missing person’s report with Stone Harbor police.

The USCG Sector Delaware Bay led a search for the man deploying their boat from Station Townsend and a helicopter from Atlantic City. The NJ State Police aided in the hours-long search. Even given the extensive law enforement presence, the man was not found by them, but rather by a local Stone Harbor resident with a boat.

“I heard they were about to call off the search because it was getting dark. All I could think about is the family of this missing paddle boarder, so my son Zach and brother-in-law Erich  jumped in our boat to help. After about 40 minutes we noticed a paddle boarder in distress coming out of the marsh. We pulled him aboard, called 911 raced back to our dock were we met first responders. Last year I had a similar situation where a woman helped me and my family avoid potential devastating accident. Everyone said I had a guardian angel. I’m glad we could pay it back.” Steve Harbaugh recounted when I was able to ask him what happened.

A marker on the back bays of Stone Harbor, near where the man was found.

According to the Coast Guard, the man was dehydrated, cold and disoriented.

Harbaugh, a local builder who runs his own charity, feels it is incumbant upon those in a position to give a helping hand do what they can to make a difference. For Steve and his family, the love of giving back doesn’t stop with collecting supplies for families in need or partnering with other organizations to brighthen others’ lives – they are there looking out to help in any way possible whenever they can.

This incident is the perfect example as to why it’s very important communicate openly when you are making plans to be out on the water alone. We are grateful that the young man was found and returned home without any injuries.

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