Coast Guard to award lifesaving medal to Henderson Harbor native

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The U.S. Coast Guard is scheduled to formally recognize a civilian at Coast Guard Station Oswego, N.Y., Tuesday for rescuing three boaters on Lake Ontario in 2009.

During the recognition ceremony, Rear Adm. Mike Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, will present Edward Fillingham with the Coast Guard Silver Lifesaving Medal for his actions while rescuing a woman and two men from 40-degree water after their paddleboat capsized in Henderson Harbor, N.Y., April 17, 2009.

When Fillingham, 77 years old at the time, heard cries for help that afternoon, he immediately launched his canoe despite extremely dangerous conditions and paddled 500 yards offshore to the boaters. Once there, he discovered the three people without lifejackets, struggling in the frigid water. He helped the woman to the side of his canoe, holding on to her hand as she struggled to stay afloat. Fillingham then helped the men to the side of his canoe and paddled back to shore with one arm as he held one person’s head out of the water and fought to keep his own vessel from capsizing. At one point during the transit to shore, Fillingham had to stop and grab one of the men by the neck to prevent him from slipping below the surface.

Once on shore, the boaters were turned over to local Emergency Medical Services with core body temperatures of 93 degrees.

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