News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 23, 2012
Cooperative effort saves man in river rescue

River rescue

Heading back to shore: Peter Vogell, left, in his boat and the Willises in their boat are greeted by neighbors and family.

Photo by Sharon Bray Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Sharon Bray

Emergency responders from Castine, Penobscot, Orland, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, and Peninsula Ambulance answered a call for help Saturday morning, August 18.

A man rowing a small skiff in the Penobscot River between Penobscot’s Doshen Shore and Fort Point Light capsized and yelled for help. His voice carried over calm water to the shore where a number of people called 911. The man’s identity has not been released.

Triathlete Dan Soucie, now of New Hampshire, visiting family in Penobscot, was among the neighbors who heard the man call for help. According to his father Jim Soucie, Dan paddled a double kayak “about two and a half miles” to where the man had let go of his boat. Soucie took off his life jacket and helped the man in the water put it on. Although Soucie, a Maine Maritime Academy graduate, was unable to get the man into his kayak, he stayed with him until additional help arrived.

Dana Willis of Penobscot and his son Justin, 16, had been preparing an MMA boat for the Retired Skippers Race in Castine harbor when Doshen Shore resident Paul Mercer contacted him to help. Willis, an MMA waterfront staffer, said this week that the Castine Harbormaster’s office also contacted him.

The Willises struggled to help the man aboard their MMA Whaler and returned the life jacket to Soucie, Willis said in a later telephone interview.

Neighbors on shore were ready with a warm blanket. The man’s family also greeted his rescue with relief.

Orland Fire Dept. launched its rescue boat from the end of Doshen Shore Pl. just as Castine boats came into view downriver.

First Responder and Castine Fire Dept. Assistant Chief Peter Vogell came in his fishing boat as did staff from the harbormaster’s office, who towed the skiff to Castine.

Castine Fire Dept. Assistant Chief and First Responder Jack Spratt handled the incident on shore, including assisting OFD to reload its rescue boat at Morse Cove Marine. Spratt has also taught at MMA.

PAC transported the man to Blue Hill Memorial Hospital after reporting to family members that he was cold but otherwise well.

Jim Soucie, who is MMA human resources director, said the man had been fishing and was out in the shipping lane of the river.

Mercer, MMA alumni office director, said he could see other boats on the water but could not reach them, and they, apparently, could not hear the calls for help.

The Willises made it back to Castine in time to staff the Committee Boat for the Retired Skippers Race.