Coast Guard responds to collision of two personal watercraft

9th Coast Guard District News
CLEVELAND – A Coast Guard rescue boatcrew responded Saturday afternoon to the scene of a collision between two personal watercraft in the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Coast Guard Station Alexandria Bay, N.Y., was notified at 3:05 p.m. by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, who reported the collision of two personal watercraft in Lake of the Isles, near Wellesley Island in the St. Lawrence Seaway, and two adult men in the water.

Both individuals were wearing life jackets. One man was able to swim to a nearby dock, but the other man reportedly suffered a possible head/neck injury.

Station Alexandria Bay launched a 25-foot Response Boat-Small and had a rescue crew on scene within 10 minutes. A helicopter from Jefferson County and local EMS were also on scene.

An off-duty Coast Guardsman assigned to Station Alexandria Bay was nearby on a private vessel and was first on scene to assist.

Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Kavanaugh, 27, a machinery technician at Coast Guard Station Alexandria Bay, entered the water, stabilizing and keeping the victim’s head afloat.

“We were about 400 yards away from the spot where they collided,” said Kavanaugh, originally from Coopersburg, Pa. “I saw the guy go into the water facedown, so I jumped in and kept my body underneath his so he would stay above the surface.”

“He was in the water holding his head up when we got there,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Donald Bullock, coxswain of the 25-foot RBS. “He stayed with him until we were able to get him to EMS.”

The injured man was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., because of the possibility of head/neck injuries.

New York State Parks Police are investigating the collision.

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