A town airboat on loan for the Sebago Lake Ice Fishing Derby aided in the rescue of a man who drove his side-by-side into open water the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 20.
Allen Hooper, 71, of Windham, was driving a 2009 Yamaha Rhino utility terrain vehicle, also known as a side-by-side, on the ice when he hit a patch of open water and went in at 1:32 p.m., according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. He swam about 10 yards to some rocks about 60 yards from shore, where he waited with the temperature in the low 20s.
A resident of Bridges Lane in Raymond witnessed the incident and called 911. The Harpswell airboat was on standby at the Standish boat launch and responded with sheriff’s deputies and a game warden on board. Reaching Hooper 22 minutes after the call, they helped him into the boat and took him to shore.
Hooper was hypothermic, but otherwise unhurt, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was taken to Mercy Hospital by Raymond Rescue. The side-by-side remains at the bottom of the lake, about 30 feet down.
Rescuers in the town of Harpswell’s airboat bring a hypothermic man to the shore of Sebago Lake.
“This water rescue demonstrates great preparation and teamwork between first responders of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, the Maine Warden Service, and Raymond Fire/Rescue, who worked seamlessly for an efficient and effective rescue,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The agency noted the role of Harpswell’s airboat, which the town’s harbor master and shellfish wardens use to navigate mud flats. The town contracts the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office to provide the shellfish wardens, and the same deputies were operating the airboat Sunday.
“Harpswell has authorized the use of this boat for several years during the ice fishing derby, and their generosity was instrumental in this successful rescue,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
The Sheriff’s Office said that if a bystander had not witnessed the incident and called 911, Hooper may not have survived.