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Hovercraft saves the day

Whitefish Pilot
June 5, 2008
By Olivia Koernig

Two years after receiving a $30,000 Neoteric hovercraft donated by two Whitefish couples, the Whitefish Fire Department used the rescue craft for the first time in the line of duty.

On Sunday, May 25, just after 6 p.m., the fire hall received a call about an overturned canoe in Whitefish Lake. Apparently, someone had stood up and the canoe tossed its three occupants into the water, stranding them southwest of City Beach.

“They were just kind of bobbing in the water,” captain Dave Baker said. “They were probably in the water for 17 minutes from the time we got the call until we pulled them out.”

Baker said the water was “pretty darn cold,” guessing its temperature at around 40 degrees. The victims, a man and two women in their 20s, were all wearing cotton clothing but no life jackets.

“Cotton absorbs the water and gets heavy and cold,” Baker said. “There was starting to be some numbness in the extremities.”

All three were examined at the scene and refused medical treatment.

The rescue efforts were aided by boaters who brought the victims aboard and towed their canoe safely to shore. Since the hovercraft is only meant to support 800 pounds, five adults, three in sopping wet clothing, may have overloaded the hovercraft.

Baker said the fire department has a pontoon boat which could have been called in as part of its tiered response, but the other firefighters on duty had received an ambulance call and were unavailable.

“We could have commandeered a boat,” Baker said. “Most people will definitely lend a hand. They’re really nice, and we really appreciate it.”

Baker, who is one of four pilots trained to operate the hovercraft, said the high-tech craft worked well in its maiden rescue.

Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc.
1649 Tippecanoe Street Terre Haute, Indiana USA 47807-2394
Telephone: 1-812-234-1120 / 1-800-285-3761 Fax: 877-640-8507

Homepage:
www.neoterichovercraft.com / www.rescuehovercraft.com
E-mail: hovermail@neoterichovercraft.com
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