PLATTSBURGH — As he tread water in Lake Champlain after his kayak capsized, Rustin Pascarella feared for his life, looking around and seeing no one.
The 24-year-old Plattsburgh man had paddled the kayak from the shore near Snug Harbor Marina in the Town of Plattsburgh to Valcour Island earlier that day, July 2.
“It (the water) was little rocky when I was going over there.”
Pascarella swam near the cove next to the lighthouse and sat on the shore for a little while, enjoying the scenery and the nice weather.
Although still light out, the sun was setting when he got in the kayak and started back.
“The waves were coming up against the side of the canoe, so I was going to push to the right and I just caught the wrong wave and it knocked me completely over.”
Pascarella was able to flip the kayak right-side up but it filled with water.
“It started going under and I put my weight on it,” he said. “I tried to hold onto it to see if it would hold me, but it was just going deeper and deeper.
“I just started swimming. I decided to ditch all that and make it to shore.”
Although an experienced swimmer, Pascarella hadn’t had much experience kayaking and he wasn’t wearing a life jacket.
That’s a mistake he won’t make again, he said.
The shore looked much farther than it had when he set out for Valcour.
‘SAW ONLY WATER’
“You couldn’t see anything but water.”
His muscles tensed and he swallowed a couple mouthfuls of water as the waves swirled around him, he said.
“I was thinking, ‘This can’t be happening.’”
He pictured the face of his 2-year-old son, Caeser.
“I thought my fate was sealed,” he said.