Aug 18, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
An 8-year-old New Woodstock boy and his 11-year-old cousin on vacation at DeRuyter Lake acted quickly and decisively last week when they rescued a middle-aged man who fell out of his boat about 100 yards from shore and was wearing an unsecured life vest.
Harry Hausser, of New Woodstock, and Matthew Williams, of Sykesville, Md., were out on a small jon-boat with an electric motor last Thursday, Aug. 14, to do some fishing and swimming in the water just off the south end of DeRuyter Lake by the DeRuyter Lake General Store. They noticed a man a little farther out in the water in a small aluminum fishing boat who was there one minute, and gone the next.
“We noticed the boat had someone in it, and then it was empty,” Matthew said. “I called to my dad [on shore], ‘Wasn’t there someone in that boat?’ and he said, ‘There was.’”
“Then we saw two hands by the engine,” Harry said.
The boys motored over and found Kevin McAvoy, of Cortland, clinging to the hull of his boat. They asked McAvoy what had happened and if they could help him. McAvoy tried to climb back into his boat, but it was a windy day with some waves, and the boat flipped over.
“We knew we couldn’t get him in our boat so we called for help,” Matthew said.
The boys quickly motored back to shore, where they got Matthew’s father, Brian Williams, and his grandfather, Bill Eliason, who jumped into the family’s pontoon boat and motored out to help. McAvoy could not climb into the pontoon boat so Williams and Eliason, with the help of Harry’s sister Helen Hausser and Matthew’s brother Colin Williams, lowered a rope ladder into the water and McAvoy climbed aboard.
“I was lucky those kids were out in the jon-boat,” McAvoy said. “People on shore couldn’t see my head and were not sure where I was.”
McAvoy, who vacations with his wife on DeRuyter Lake every summer, said he went out in his boat “just to go fishing for a little while.” He was sitting in a small vinyl seat in the back of the boat — which he noticed was loose before he went out and tightened it — and when he leaned back to cast his rod the seat slipped, he fell over and then flipped over the side into the water. “I just flipped right over backwards,” he said.
“I didn’t have my life-vest tied, I was just hanging onto it, and had a very heavy sweater on — so things were a little on the heavy side,” McAvoy said. He said he was about 100 yards out in about 8 to 10 feet of water.
After the rescue, McAvoy and Brian Williams went back out in the pontoon boat and towed McAvoy’s boat back to the dock, where Harry, Matthew, Helen, Colin and Emma Hausser bailed out all the water.
“And there was a little fish in it too,” Helen Hausser said.
“If it had been a nice bass, I would have been happy,” McAvoy said with a smile. “I’ve never had an accident like that before — it was the first time and hopefully the last.”
Later that evening, McAvoy took all the kids out for ice cream sundaes in downtown DeRuyter in appreciation of their help. He and his wife also wrote the boys a card thanking them, writing, “You are our heroes.”
“They were very helpful and I appreciate them very much. I’m just glad it didn’t turn out any worse,” McAvoy said.
“You try to teach your kids to help and give back, and this was a great example of them listening and going out and doing it,” said Charlene Williams, Matthew’s mother.
“I’m very proud of them,” said Shelley Hausser, Harry’s mother. “They acted in the way we always hoped they would in a situation like this — responsible and calm.”
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.