The Suffolk County Legislature formally recognized a North ferry captain and crew who saved the life of a boater who had gone into the freezing water of the bay in December.
Captain Lance Willumsen and deckhands Jason Brewer, Dennis Raffelock and Jared Gibbs were honored in a ceremony at the Legislature earlier this month.
Sponsored by Legislators Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac), who represents Shelter Island, and Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) each man received proclamations that stated they had “rescued David Javier from frigid waters off Shelter Island last December when he had fallen out of his boat; and acted swiftly and heroically to save Mr. Javier’s life; and [are] being recognized for their bravery and selflessness; now therefore be it that Bridget Fleming and Al Krupski, on behalf of the Suffolk County Legislature, hereby extend our congratulations and commendation … as [they are] truly worthy of the days honor and everlasting admiration and gratitude of Suffolk County.”
Ms. Fleming, who learned about the incident from reading the Reporter, said that the ferry crew were an exceptional group of men who acted swiftly and bravely.
On Monday Ms. Fleming praised the Island’s maritime traditions and the commitment to community that Islanders have always demonstrated.
Following is the original Reporter story from December 15, 2017:
A crew on the North Ferry boat, the Menantic, saved a man from drowning this morning in the frigid waters off Crescent Beach.
The Menantic was just coming back from Greenport to Shelter Island at about 10 a.m. when the crew observed a boat moving in circles.
Using binoculars, Captain Lance Willumsen said he and his mates Jason Brewer, Jared Gibbs and Dennis Raffelock tried to determine if anyone was at the controls of the circling boat.
They concluded there wasn’t, and docked the Menantic at the North Ferry terminal on Shelter Island, unloaded the vehicles and passengers and quickly moved to the area of the boat, Captain Willumsen said.
The North Ferry issued a distress call at 9:51 a.m., according to Southold Town police.
When the ferrymen arrived at the scene they spotted a man in the water and quickly deployed a “man-overboard ladder,” Captain Willumsen said.
The man was in such distress he couldn’t hold onto it.
The water was about 45 degrees with air temperatures around 25 at the time.
When they threw him a “life ring,” Mr. Gibbs said, the man grabbed it and held on tightly as the four rescuers pulled him to safety aboard the Menantic. He was quickly wrapped in several coats.
Police identified the man as David Javier, an employee of Southold Marine Center. He was taking the boat to the marine center to be hauled out of the water for winter storage, according to police.
The North Ferry crew said they were told he lost control of his boat and was tossed overboard.
An ambulance crew met the ferry in Greenport, where EMTs treated Mr. Javier for cold exposure and took him to Eastern Long Island Hospital.
Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corporation General Manager Stella Lagudis said ferry crewmembers had training recently in man-overboard rescues. She praised this team with putting what they had learned into effective practice in a real life situation.
Bill Barker, the owner and captain of the eastern Long Island franchise of Sea Tow, a boat towing service, said the Southold Bay Constable asked him to retrieve the boat, which was still spinning in circles.
He found the 28-foot Privateer center console with twin Honda outboard motors just east of Conklin Point running in circles. With the deck icy, there was no way for the captain to board the boat safely to turn off the engine.
With the help of another Sea Tow captain, Andrew Haupt, they threw an old tow line in front of it and the line eventually wrapped around one motor and caused the engine to shut off.
“He probably slipped on the deck. We had trouble with our boats this morning,” Mr. Barker said.
The boat was towed to Alberton’s Marine, where they were hauling it out, he said.