Neighbors Rescue Troubled Boater

On Tuesday, May 15th, Katie Pochapan stood at the window of her mother’s home at Post 61 and saw a person swimming behind a mostly sunken boat. At first she thought he was there with purpose, but then began to suspect he might be in trouble and need help. 

Katie rushed over and knocked on the door of a neighbor, Mary Ryding and asked if she was watching what appeared to be a boat sinking on the lake with a man in the water beside it. Katie asked if Mary had a boat to borrow so that she could lend assistance to the man if any help was needed. 

By the time the two reached the shoreline they could see that it was an elderly man of about twenty yards out who was trying to keep hold of some equipment while struggling to swim to shore. Only the front of the boat was sticking out of the water now.
Katie jumped into the borrowed kayak and paddled out to the man. Fortunately the man had a life jacket on so Katie suggested he grab hold of her boat so she could tow him to shore. Two additional neighbors, Jim and Ronnie Lang from post 68, came onto the scene in a row boat and proceeded to tie some rope to the bow of the sunken boat and starting pulling it toward the Mays dock. 

It was described as being very, very difficult to move the boat and somewhere along the way, Ronnie ended up with a broken rib! It was discovered later that the boat held three large batteries and it is assumed that the engine propeller was dragging on the lake bottom, helping to reason why it was so hard to tow it toward the shore.

By the time that Katie had the victim to shore, he was very cold, shaken up and a bit disoriented. He indicated that the cause of the sinking was due to the bottom of his boat giving way and it began to take on water quickly. Katie and her boyfriend helped him out of the water and brought him into her mother’s home where he rested and got warmed up. After a short spell they drove the man to Angle Lake Park where Katie recovered the man’s truck and followed him to his home. 

Later in the day, the gentleman’s son and grandson came to retrieve the boat and belongings from the water. No further word has been received from the victim or his family. We assume everything is fine thanks to the help from these alert and responsive neighbors.

1 comment:

Angle Lake Shore Club Blog said...

The following email was sent to the Blog Team inbox. It reminds everyone the importance to dial 911 FIRST prior to attempting any rescue - what may appear to be an insignificant event can quickly become much larger - where the rescuer may find themselves needing to become rescued as well! Please read on:

To the Angle Lake Shore Club and lake area homeowners,

Recently I read an article in your newsletter of a man who was rescued by neighbors after his boat sank on your lake (“Neighbors rescue troubled boater”).

First, I would like to thank the civilian rescuers for what they did. Helping someone in the water can be dangerous, as the broken rib can attest, and takes courage.

Second, if you ever are faced with a situation similar to this one, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1. It’s not uncommon for attempted rescues to have difficulties, so having trained firefighters with proper equipment responding to support your activity is always a good idea. Even if you do not attempt to go out on the lake to assist someone who appears to be in trouble, call 9-1-1 as a precaution.

Finally, please remember that the SeaTac Fire Department works for you. We can provide help and support to your community before or during an emergency. We would be more than happy to speak to homeowners’ associations or other groups that would like to learn more about what they can do to be safe. We have a wide variety of information ranging from kitchen safety to how to use a fire extinguisher, and there is no charge for our participation.

Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions or need more information.

Thank you.
Kyle Ohashi, Captain and Public Information Officer
Kent/SeaTac Fire Departments | Fire Prevention