The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 29, 2013

Coast Guard rescues two from drowning in Lake Erie


Star Beacon

CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard rescued two people in danger of drowning from Lake Erie near the Fairport West Breakwater Lighthouse on Thursday afternoon.

The names and hometowns of the rescued are not being released.

At about 3 p.m., a crew from Coast Guard Aids-to-Navigation Team Buffalo, N.Y., was working at the Fairport West Breakwater Lighthouse when they heard screams for help from people on the pier about 100 yards away.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Nalley, Petty Officer 3rd Class James Poole, Seaman Dillon Smith and Seaman Kirk Johnson immediately responded to the emergency.

Upon arrival, they noticed two people in the water struggling to stay afloat. The crew threw a rope into the water for the victims to grab. With the sheer face of the pier extension making recovery unlikely at that location, the crew decided to use the rope to drag the two to a safer location to recover them.

The first person to go into the water told rescuers that he suffered a cramp in the water, preventing him from staying afloat. His friend jumped in to assist him, but his distress put them both at risk of drowning. It was at this time that they were noticed by people on the pier, whose screams for help alerted the Coast Guard crew working nearby on the third floor of the lighthouse.

Both victims refused medical treatment and left under their own power shortly after the rescue.

“The command is very proud of our members for their vigilance and quick response to step in and save others in the midst of performing their duties,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Beaudoin, executive petty officer of ANT Buffalo. “Although the Coast Guard always appreciates when members of the public step in to help, it’s important that they don’t place themselves in harm’s way in the process. If you see a swimmer in distress, call for help before rendering aid.”