ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 14, 2011 - With over 600 tow boats spread across the country responding to over 60,000 routine requests from boaters for on-the-water assistance, the law of averages dictates that the captains of these vessels are bound to run into life-threatening emergencies. And, as with any heroic act, the captain is faced with the split-second decision to either step in - putting them in harms way to try to save the individual - or to call for help.
BoatUS Towing Services honored 12 of its TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist captains with its annual BoatUS "Woody Pollack Lifesaving Award" at a ceremony that capped off the group's annual conference held recently in Long Beach, CA.
"When the normal routine of dropping off gas or providing a tow back to the launch ramp is interrupted by a life-threatening may day call on the radio, our captains stepped in," said BoatUS Vice President of Towing Services Jerry Cardarelli. "They are not in the rescue business, but without hesitation they went out to save fellow boaters. We are very proud of their heroic actions."
Here are the details on the incidents:
Capt. Clayton Tieman of TowBoatUS Tampa Bay / Tarpon Springs, FL responded to a report of a boat on fire and safely removed the crew of two, just as the boat's decks began to burn their feet and live ammunition stored below began to explode.
Capt. Daniel McAndrew of TowBoatUS Detroit Lake / Lake St. Clair, MI was the first to arrive on scene at a tragic collision between two boats and successfully pulled eight persons - some critically injured - aboard his boat and rushed them to shore.
Capt. Kevin Freestone of TowBoatUS Big Pine Key, FL was nominated for two life-saving actions. The first was for locating, providing urgent aid and emergency transport of a kayaker gravely wounded by a barracuda that struck her while traveling at 40-50 miles per hour. The second incident involved coming to the assistance of a vessel that ran ashore onto rocks with 65-year-old man aboard with a severe head laceration and a broken arm and leg.
Capt. John Aydelotte of Vessel Assist Anacortes, WA successfully retrieved an out-of-gas pleasure boat with a family of four aboard under extreme weather and sea conditions.
Capt. Zach Willis of TowBoatUS Beaufort, NC pulled three anglers from the Beaufort Inlet after a wave capsized their small fishing boat and plunged them in the turbulent water.
Capt. Paul Amaral of Vessel Assist Ventura, CA was honored for responding to the assistance of two sailing vessels disabled and adrift in treacherous seas off the California coast.
Capt. Augustine Malfavon of Vessel Assist San Diego, CA retrieved an unconscious man from the water who then was revived onboard a San Diego Harbor Patrol boat.
Capt. Lee Sykes of TowBoatUS Beaufort, NC performed CPR on a man in cardiac arrest aboard a commercial vessel and kept the crewman's airway open until the Coast Guard arrived on scene, and continued CPR while being transported to shore.
Capt. R.W. Henson of TowBoatUS Falmouth, MA responded to a call for a heart attack and provided first aid, coordinated rescue efforts, and transported the victim to shore.
Capt. Tim Simpson of TowBoatUS Swansboro, NC responded to a capsized vessel at the Bogue Inlet where he found five individuals, including an 8-year old child, clinging to the overturned 19-foot skiff. All were safely rescued.
Capt. Mike Procek of TowBoatUS Falmouth, MA was able to save one man who was swept away from his anchored boat and not wearing a life jacket.
Capt. Jason Davis of Vessel Assist Ventura, CA provided an emergency communications relay between a bystander reporting a kayaker in distress off Santa Cruz Island and the local Coast Guard station.
About BoatUS Towing Services:
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with a wide array of consumer services, including on-the-water towing assistance provided by TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist Pacific. Combined, these two towing fleets offer North American boaters the largest network of US and Canadian towing ports with over 290 locations and over 600 towing assistance vessels - more than double that of any other service provider.