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Boys aged 8, 11 rescue man who fell into DeRuyter Lake

“You are our heroes,” man says in thank you note

Kevin McAvoy, standing back row, poses with the children who helped rescue him and his boat from DeRuyter Lake last week after he fell in and the boat flipped over. The kids are, from left: Colin Williams, Harry Hausser, Matthew Williams, Helen Hausser and Emma Hausser.

Kevin McAvoy, standing back row, poses with the children who helped rescue him and his boat from DeRuyter Lake last week after he fell in and the boat flipped over. The kids are, from left: Colin Williams, Harry Hausser, Matthew Williams, Helen Hausser and Emma Hausser. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— 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.”

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