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NARRAGANSETTâ€”The town of Narragansett honored a group of local firefighters Tuesday evening for their exceptional response and work in saving a stranded kayaker.
â€śWhen our firefighters went to work on the night of July 25, 2008 their focus was on the annual crowds of the Blessing of the Fleet Road Race,â€ť said Fire Chief James Cotter. â€śNot surprisingly, they had a pretty busy night, but what was surprising was the call they were dispatched to after returning to service from a previous call in the north end.â€ť
The kayaker was reported to be calling for help about 100 to 150 feet from the seawall in the Pier. Engine One arrived with Captain David Arnold and Lieutenant Scott McLaughlin, and while Arnold notified the Coast Guard McLaughlin dressed into a dry suit and began to swim out the to shouts in the darkness.
â€śWhen he reached the victim, [Captain McLaughlin] found that the kayaker was entangled in a lobster-pot line,â€ť said Cotter. â€śThe line was tangled around his foot and leg so tight that it was cutting into his calf. The lobster trap was pulling the man under water every time a wave came in.â€ť
Lieutenant Joseph Sterns, now retired, and Matthew Shea clipped onto McLaughlinâ€™s line and had assisted him on rescuing the stranded kayaker. Lieutenant McLaughlin and the kayaker himself had both struggled mightily to free the kayaker from the lobster-pot line entanglement, but to no avail.
The kayaker informed Scott that he had a knife on board but could not reach it,â€ť said Cotter. â€śOnce Scott found the knife he was able to cut the rope and then signaled to shore to pull them in to safety.â€ť
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