May 16, 2008

Kayaker aids injured Jetskier....

Suzan Clarke
The Journal News

STONY POINT - A Highland Falls man who injured his head and broke several bones when his personal watercraft crashed on rocks in the Hudson River off Jones Point yelled for help for about an hour yesterday until a passing kayaker came to his aid.

The 61-year-old unidentified good Samaritan from Crompond brought his kayak out of the water, walked to a nearby home and requested that someone call the police.

When authorities arrived in response to the 5:32 p.m. 911 call, they found the skier, 43-year-old John Thomas, lying on rocks near the shore. The man had sustained "what appeared to be two broken legs, a broken arm and head injuries on the rocks," Lt. Peter Quinn of the Stony Point police said yesterday evening.

Thomas was conscious and told emergency personnel "that after the collision he had dragged himself up on the rocks," Quinn said.

"He had been there probably close to one hour calling for help," Quinn said.

"There's no doubt in my mind that this kayaker saved his life," the lieutenant added.

Rescuers were forced to carry the victim over rough, jagged terrain and along the nearby railroad tracks. Quinn noted that police asked CSX Transportation to suspend all rail activity for the duration of the rescue.

Once emergency personnel got Thomas to the road, he was taken by STAT Flight to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.

Police had to close Route 9W so the helicopter could land on the roadway.

Quinn said the rescue was difficult but commended the teams involved for what he called a "textbook" operation.

"It was very impressive to watch everybody work together and get the job done," Quinn said.

The cause of the crash is being investigated by the Rockland County Sheriff's Marine Unit and Stony Point police, but Quinn said it appeared that visibility was poor on the Hudson River yesterday around the time of the incident.

He said the watercraft had "severe front-end damage."

Capt. Walter Garschagen, owner of the Sea Tow Central Hudson River franchise, which provides emergency service to boaters between the George Washington Bridge and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, said one of his boats towed the watercraft to Haverstraw.

According to reports from the captain who was in charge of the operation, Garschagen said "the Jet Ski is completely wrecked ... the front part, including the steering wheel, is completely ripped off."

In addition to Stony Point police and the Sheriff's Marine Unit, the Stony Point Volunteer Fire Department, Haverstraw Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Thiells Volunteer Fire Department and Rockland Paramedic Service responded.

No comments: