Four people were rescued from a tugboat that capsized off Long Island, just moments before the vessel sunk into the water, video obtained by NBC 4 New York shows.
The 38-foot towing vessel Sea Lion started taking on water south of Atlantic Beach, and the Coast Guard was called to rescue the four boaters on board, a spokeswoman said.
Two pilot boats were nearby at the scene and were able to rescue the mariners.
Scott Lipschitz, the assistant chief of the Atlantic Beach Rescue Squad, said the boat "started going down like a rocket" minutes after he arrived.
"We got the call, we heard the boats were going down fast. And we just looked at each other and said, 'We gotta go,'" said Robert Fox, one of the rescuers who happened to be nearby when the "May Day" call went out.
The rescuers found one boater clinging to the bow of the tugboat, bobbing in the rough waters. The men were all able to put on heat suits before jumping into the waters.
Just minutes after the boater was pulled from the frigid waters, the tugboat started sinking, bubbling underneath the water, video shows.
"It was pretty nasty," said Fox. "Six-foot seas coming over the bow. As soon as we got there, within five seconds, the boat went down."
The fog also hindered rescue efforts.
"The fog is only an eighth of an mile that you can see. If they were floating in the water for any period of time, it'd be very hard to find them. Helicopters can't go up in this weather," said Lipschitz.
All four men on the tugboat were brought to safety on a Coast Guard vessel and were taken to hospitals. They are expected to be OK.
On Monday, a tug that had been towing a 125-foot barge sank when a 10-foot swell broke the tow line. The barge eventually washed up on Silver Point County Park in Atlantic Beach. No one was injured.