Press-Republican

Police, Fire, Courts

August 13, 2013

Rider, personal watercraft stranded on Lake Champlain

PLATTSBURGH — A water rescue on Cumberland Bay turned out happily on Monday.

Plattsburgh City Police reported Mike Pirozzi, 28, was riding personal watercrafts with Siobahn Hennessey, 25, both of Center Moriches on Long Island. 

Pirozzi reportedly experienced mechanical issues with his machine and got off, which caused Hennessey to lose sight of him in the waves.

So she returned to Wilcox Dock shortly after 1 p.m. to get help.

Ronald Gist of Plattsburgh, who owns Tiny Boat Rentals, said the couple had rented the two watercraft from him. Gist’s mechanic, Brandon Cook, rode out to look for Pirozzi but couldn’t locate him either. 

“It definitely got the heart pumping,” Cook said.

He called 911 as Gist took over the search. City Police and firefighters soon arrived and were joined by members of the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department and Cumberland Head Fire Department. 

Sheriff’s deputies took the department’s boat out on the bay to join in the search.

Gist was eventually able to locate the man in the northern part of the bay and tow him to the beach at Cumberland Bay State Park. 

At about 2 p.m., Gist returned to Wicox Dock and reported the man was safely ashore. He told police that Pirozzi was unharmed.

Gist credited the victim with remaining calm and following instructions as they secured the watercraft for towing.

“That made it easier,” he said.

Gist said he always requires customers to wear a life preserver and provides instruction before they set out. And he always remains on site for situations such as the one that unfolded on Monday.

It is easy for inexperienced riders to underestimate conditions or to venture far from shore, he said.

All in all, he was glad everything turned out well.

“I would do the same for anybody,” he said.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

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