Couples saved after canoes capsize off the coast of Brunswick

There was a dramatic water rescue in Brunswick Thursday night. (WGME)

BRUNSWICK (WGME) – There was a dramatic water rescue in Brunswick Thursday night.

Two couples were out in the ocean in these canoes when they capsized.

Police say they're lucky to be alive, thanks in part to a group of people who heard their cries for help.

A group from New Hampshire was on their first night of vacation when two women heard people yelling in the distance.

"I heard them yelling 'Help. Call 911. We're drowning.' We thought they were faking it at first, ‘cause they thought that they heard them partying,” Destiny Hamilton said.

It didn't take long to realize this was no joke.

"She's like 'We're drowning! We're drowning! Call 911! Call 911!" Jodie Desmarais said.

Police say two couples went out in canoes.

Both capsized at high tide in the middle of Thomas Bay.

"They were far out,” Desmarais said. “I mean, far out."

After calling 911, they heard one woman trying to swim to shore.

"I was holding the flashlight,” Desmarais said. “I'm like 'Just come towards the light! Just come towards the light!"

Exhausted, they helped her out of the water after she swam more than a quarter mile to safety, but the other three were still in danger.

"They kept yelling one of them can't swim,” Desmarais said. “The other girl's out there. You can hear her crying. Like I said, it was horrible. The one we got up, she's like 'I came to the conclusion we were just going to die out here tonight.'"

Police say the first officers on scene commandeered a rowboat and headed out to help.

"A Virginia tourist that happened to be there was able to bring one of the women to shore that had been out there,” Commander Mark Waltz said. “And then the officers picked up the last two males that were there."

Witnesses say only three of the four people rescued had life jackets on.

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