Just call them lucky! Good sam saves 3 boaters

>We’ve been experiencing some hot temperatures here on the Great Lakes, but don’t let the recent warm weather fool you into thinking the water temperatures are warm.

All of the lakes are still hovering in the mid-to-upper 30’s, which is cold enough to bring on exhaustion or unconsciousness in as little as 15 to 30 minutes. As boaters venture out on the water, please wear appropriate safety gear and try to remember that any temperature below 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit can be a factor in inducing hypothermia.

Don’t believe me? Check out this personal story from one of three boaters saved by 75-year-old Ed Fillingham after their paddle boat flipped on Lake Ontario Friday, April 17th. Without Mr. Fillingham’s quick actions, the three may likely have perished before the Coast Guard could arrive.

This story, written by survivor Amanda Roberts, details the three’s amazing rescue by our good samaritan. You can also read a media account and see a video here.

“On Friday, April 17th 2009, the three of us (Amanda Roberts, 22, Douglas Daury, 27, and Kiefer Hockey, 17) decided to take a ride in Kiefer’s pedal boat. The water was really calm but because it’s so cold we decided to just pedal around the dock, our intentions were not to swim or pedal out far.

The three of us were just floating and talking and the next thing we knew we were floating away from the dock. We tried to pedal back but the current had picked up out of nowhere. The current just kept taking us further away from our starting point.

It all happened so fast.

The boat started taking in water so Kiefer and Doug had me stay in the boat as long as I could while they tried to pull the boat to shore. They weren’t succeeding so they got back in the boat. Minutes later the boat flipped. I flew over Doug’s head as the boat hit him in the head, however he was conscious.

I tried climbing on top of the boat to float with it but the water was so cold, I was numb and my clothes were weighing me down. At this point we couldn’t really breathe because the water was piercing cold. We didn’t really have time to think, we all just started swimming to shore. The water was about 15 to 20 feet deep where the boat flipped.

We saw this family outside watching us as we struggled so we just started screaming ‘help.’ At this point, Doug was barely with us. He couldn’t really talk and he took in a lot of water. Kiefer is a strong swimmer, he just kept going. I couldn’t breathe and the boys tried taking me in but I was just weighing them down. I just kept praying and thinking of my eight month old daughter and how I’m all she has. Doug has two children as well and Kiefer had his whole life ahead of him.

None of us were giving up. We all had too much to live for. Then we saw this man (Edward J. Fillingham, 75) get in his canoe and he was trying to get to us.

It felt like forever, but all of a sudden he was there with a glow around him like an angel. Edward suffers from Parkinsons and if he had fallen in, we would have been in more trouble.

Doug and I grabbed the side of the canoe and Kiefer grabbed the rope to it and started to pull the canoe in. Kiefer never stopped swimming. Doug had gone under and Edward pulled him up by his neck.

I couldn’t feel anything but the tingles of hypothermia kicking in. Edward had my hand and I had said to him, ‘I’m sorry, let me go I’m done.’ Doug and I both had a time when we wanted to give up. When we got to shore Edward’s daughter and their neighbors helped us try to get warm with blankets and towels. I begged his daughter to peel my clothes off because they felt like a thousand knives being forced into my body. The daughter had dialed 911 so EMT’s then took care of us. Doug had taken in so much water that he started to vomit.

Meanwhile his temperature had dropped to 91. I believe mine was 92, but we are unsure about Kiefer’s. He is the most mature 17-year-old I have ever met. He stayed so positive out there and he never gave up. Doug and I were pretty much dying.

Doug stated that he only had tunnel vision and when he looked up he saw these bright lights in the sky. I told him it was the lights to heaven. It was the scariest thing any of us have ever been through. The experience was very traumatizing. Doug told me that there was one point where he was gonna give up and go under and hope that the paramedics could bring him back to life with CPR.

He wouldn’t have made it but none of us would have let that happen.

If one of us came out, we were all coming out. I feel this experience has brought us all closer and has taught us a great lesson. I also have Doug and Kiefer to thank. They were such gentleman by trying to keep me dry. I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t have them with me.

They were so positive, but once we all were in the water there was just no time to think. We had to try and swim or we would have drowned for sure. Edward made it just in time. A few more minutes and Doug and I never would have made it.

We have Edward, his family, and the neighbors to thank, but we all feel Edward is our Hero and we owe him our lives. We don’t know how he even made it in a canoe with the way the current had picked up. We all just want to try and put this behind us. We feel Edward should get any special awards that he can for saving us. It was truly a miracle. -Thank you Edward, YOU truly are an angel in our eyes.

Sincerely, Amanda Roberts, Douglas Daury, and Kiefer Hockey”

Bravo Zulu Mr. Fillingham!

For more on hypothermia, click here.

Tags: , , , ,